Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (October 3, 2020) dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel at its south portal in Manali.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. “Atal Tunnel, apart from a being useful in Himachal Pradesh, will also become a lifeline for the new union territory Ladakh. With this, Leh-Ladakh, and this big region of Himachal Pradesh will always stay connected with the other parts of the country, and will quickly move forward on the path to progress,” the Prime Minister said.
“Atal Tunnel will give new strength to India`s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity,” he said. Terming it as a historic day, the Prime Minister claimed that along with the fulfilment of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s dreams, the wait of crores of Himachal residents has also come true.
The Prime Minister said that such border connectivity projects will also aid the security forces in ensuring regular supplies to them and also in their patrolling. The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of the engineers, technicians and workers who risked their lives in making this dream come true.
He said Atal Tunnel is also going to give new strength to India’s border infrastructure and would be a living proof of world-class border connectivity. He said despite the longstanding demand to improve the infrastructure and overall development of the border areas, plans were made only to languish for decades without any progress.
The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, Minister of State Anurag Thakur, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane.
Prime Minister Modi travelled in the tunnel from the South Portal to the North Portal and also visited the emergency egress tunnel that was built into the main tunnel itself. He also witnessed a pictorial exhibition on “The Making of Atal Tunnel” on the occasion.
The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The tunnel has ample safety features built into it. Prime Minister underlined that the Atal Tunnel symbolizes the commitment of the government to ensure that the benefits of development reach out to each and every citizen.