PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the most awaited Atal - Rohtang Tunnel Project on Oct 3 and the country couldn't help but be proud of the fact that world's longest high altitude tunnel is now in India. The tunnel will henceforth connect Manali with Lahaul - Spiti Valley. There is much more to the project and here are a few facts about the tunnel explained in one liners.
1. The tunnel is important for the state of Himachal Pradesh as well as the new born Union Territory of Ladakh as it connects the city of Manali with the Spiti Valley. Spiti Valley is top most choice of tourists, especially bikers riding to Ladakh and also an important spot in Buddhist pilgrim circuit because of the Spiti Valley Monastery. The Spiti Valley connects Himachal Pradesh to the Ladakh range. This tunnel will prove beneficial for the tourists ahead, since it will reduce an excess distance of 46 km which was much time consuming.
2. The tunnel is 9.02 km long in length and constructing such a long tunnel in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas was challenging for the BRO. The Border Roads Organization headed the responsibility of constructing the tunnel because of the complexities of the project.
3. Constructing road anywhere in the Himalayas is challenging because the region is a major fault zone because of the clashing of two tectonic plates. this makes the entire Himalayan region favorable for seismic activities. The Border Roads Organization of the Indian Military is comfortable to work in this terrain and it is usual for them to deal with such complexities. That is why, BRO was given the responsibility to build an efficient tunnel on Himachal border.
4. The tunnel is called to be strategically important since it will avail the road facility to transport logistics to the Indian posts at the LAC and strengthen the Morales of the soldiers fighting with the Chinese enemy as well as the perilous Himalayan weather. The tunnel has already put pressure on the Chinese PLA.
5. The foundation stone of the tunnel was laid in 2002 during the term of Former PM Late Atal Bihari Vajpeyee and it was his dream to complete the project and provide better infrastructure and facilities to the people of Himachal and Ladakh. Later, the governments in power didn't prioritize the project which put the work on delay. But it was only after NDA government came in power in 2014 election when the project was again considered on top priority. That is why, the tunnel is titled with the name of the Former Indian PM Vajpeyee ji.
6. The natural threats to work in the Himalayas kept on disturbing the progress of the project, which resulted in delay of completion. To overcome this problem, the design of the tunnel was given a horseshoe shape so that later, after the tunnel is in use, such problems won't interrupt the traffic.
7. Since the tunnel is long, in case of natural or artificial emergency, people could get trapped in the tunnel. To solve this problem, the BRO came up with an exclusive mechanism and have built another tunnel under the main tunnel for the people to make their way out of the tunnel in case of such emergencies. The project is specifically constructed in consideration of the safety measures for the people during emergencies and mishaps.
- Himali Nalawade