The world’s longest highway tunnel connects Manali with Leh which was under construction for 10 years whereas it was earlier expected to complete within 6 years. It is interesting to know that the Atal highway is above 10,000 feet.
The tunnel is called Atal Tunnel, as the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had declared the project on June 3, 2000.
The Chief Engineer, K.P. Purushothaman, also said that there was a plan of even completing the project within 6 years, but it took them 10 years to complete. There is an emergency exit at every 500 metres throughout the tunnel, and CCTV cameras are set at every 60 metres. Fire hydrants are also installed in the tunnel in any case of a fire emergency.
The 9.2 kilometre tunnel is going to decrease the distance by 46 kilometre between Manali and Leh, which will save 4 hours.
The chief engineer also mentioned that while under construction, the difficult task was the induction of resources. There were many challenges over the years to complete the 9.2 kilometre world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet. The width of the tunnel is 10.5 metres which include 1 metre footpath on either side.
Colonel Parikshit Mehra, Director, Atal Tunnel project said to ANI that many experts managing within the team were of the view to alter the arrangement of the tunnel.
There has been a vision to connect Manali with Leh, as during winter there used to be no mode of connectivity, but this tunnel solves the issue. This tunnel has been a challenging assignment because of geological uncertainty. The Colonel also said that they stayed working only from the two ends for the tunnel. As the other end across Rohtang Pas was in North that is not accessible for almost five months in a year.
In the year 2010, the estimated project cost was Rs 1,700 crore which has doubled to Rs 3,200 crore by September 2020.