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Atal Tunnel

Atal Tunnel

Context:

Prime Minister has inaugurated the Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang.

  • The tunnel has been named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was scheduled to be completed by May 2020 but was delayed by a few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details:

  • The tunnel connects Solang Valley near Manali to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti district.
  • The Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world (9.02-km), built at an altitude of 3,000 meters. 
  • The tunnel cuts through a mountain west of the Rohtang La and will now shorten the distance between the two points by around 46 km. What was a nearly 4 hour will now take around 15 minutes.
  • The double-laned tunnel can handle around 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day, with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour.

Features:

  • The unique features of this tunnel begin a fair distance away from it on the approach roads to the north and south portals. Bridges in rivers on the approach to the tunnel from both the portals have also been completed and are now being painted.
    • Snow galleries have also been built at the approach road to the tunnel from Manali side, and this will ensure all-weather connectivity.
  • Other features include an emergency escape tunnel under the main tunnel. This would provide an emergency exit in case of any untoward incident which may render the main tunnel unusable.
  • The tunnel also provides a telephone every 150 meters, a fire hydrant every 60 meters, an emergency exit every 500 meters, a turning cavern every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring every one km, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 meters.

Significance:

  • Atal tunnel will give new strength to India’s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity. 
  • Such border connectivity projects will also aid the security forces in ensuring regular supplies to them and also in their patrolling.
  • The tunnel holds a strategic advantage as well. While it will be a boon to the residents of the Lahaul and Spiti Valley who remain cut off from the rest of the country in winters for nearly six months due to heavy snowfall, the tunnel will provide almost all-weather connectivity to the troops stationed in Ladakh.

Rohtang Pass:

  • Rohtang Pass (elevation 3,978 m) is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
  • It is present on the Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas.
  • Other passes of Himachal Pradesh are Bara Lacha La, Debsa Pass, Rohtang Pass, Shipki La.

Source: Indian Express