New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Calling the inauguration of the ‘Atal Tunnel’ a historic day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah described it as an engineering marvel and said “it will prove to be a major boon for the entire region”.
He expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who inaugurated the all-weather 9.02 km horseshoe shaped two-lane ‘Atal Tunnel’ in Himachal Pradesh, that links Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti valley, on Saturday.
In a series of tweets Amit Shah said, “A historic day for the entire country as the vision of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji comes true! Congratulations to BRO for working relentlessly on this unprecedented project.”
“As the longest highway tunnel in the world, Atal Tunnel will reduce the travel time between Leh and Manali by 4-5 hours. Being an all-weather tunnel, it will also connect Lahaul-Spiti valley with the rest of the country throughout the year which used to be cut off for months earlier,” Shah said.
“Atal Tunnel will prove to be a major boon for the entire region. People will now have access to better healthcare facilities, business opportunities and essential items. It will also strengthen our defence preparedness and generate employment by giving impetus to the tourism sector.”
The 9.02 kilometre long tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 mtrs (10,000 feet) from Mean Sea Level. It has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day, with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour. It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The tunnel also has ample safety features built into it.
The decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000 when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The foundation stone for the Access Road to the South Portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.
The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided on December 24 last year to name the Rohtang Tunnel as the Atal Tunnel to honour the contribution made by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.