Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday inaugurated the world’s longest highway tunnel in Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang. The Atal Tunnel, built at an altitude of 3,000 meters, connects Solang Valley near Manali to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti district.
He was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane, as well as Himachal Chief Minister Jairam Thakur.
Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi said Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation of the approach road for this tunnel, but after his government left, the project was all but forgotten. He said it would improve India’s border infrastructure and called it an example of world-class border connectivity.
The tunnel has been named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The construction, which used 15,000 tonnes of steel, took nearly a decade and cost around Rs 3,200 crore.
The tunnel reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km. The tunnel will also reduce the time taken to cover the same distance from 4 hours to just around 15 minutes.
On a daily basis, the tunnel has the capacity to handle approximately 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour.
The tunnel also provides a telephone every 150 metres, fire hydrant every 60 metres, emergency exit every 500 metres, turning cavern every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring every one km, broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 metres.