9-km-long Atal Tunnel an engineering marvel

It took 10 years for the Indian Army’s elite road construction agency, Border Roads Organisation, to complete the tunnel, constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3,300 crore.
The 9.02-km long tunnel, shaped like a horse shoe, is the longest highway tunnel in the world and connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year.(ANI)
The 9.02-km long tunnel, shaped like a horse shoe, is the longest highway tunnel in the world and connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year.(ANI)
Updated on Oct 02, 2020 09:22 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Shimla | By, Shimla

The nine-kilometre-long Atal Tunnel, running across the 13,050-ft high Rohtang pass, on the Manali-Leh axis is the highest motorable highway tunnel in the world.

An engineering marvel, it took 10 years for the Indian Army’s elite road construction agency, Border Roads Organisation, to complete the tunnel, constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3,300 crore. The construction contract of the tunnel was awarded to Strabag-Afcons, a joint venture between India-based Afcons Infrastructure and Austria’s Strabag.

The 9.02-km long tunnel, shaped like a horse shoe, is the longest highway tunnel in the world and connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier, the valley used to be cut off for about six months every year due to heavy snowfall.

The tunnel has consumed 12,252 metric tonnes of steel, 1,69,426 metric tonnes of cement and 1,01,336 metric tonnes of concrete, and excavated 5,05,264 metric tonnes of soil and rocks by adopting the latest Austrian tunneling method for construction.

Built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000-metres (10,000-feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL), the Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali and at an altitude of 3,060-metres, while the north portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near Teling village, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 metres.

It is extremely significant from the defence point of view. The BRO worked relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault Zone.

More than 3, 000 workers, along with engineers, from Bihar, Jharkhandh and Nepal worked overtime to complete the tunnel. The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017. The tunnel provides a telephone facility at every 150 metre of its stretch, a fire hydrant every 60 metre, emergency exits every 500 metre, turning cavern every 2.2km, air quality monitors every 1 km, broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 metre.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken the decision to construct the strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass on June 3, 2000, and the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.

Shanta, Dhumal to watch inauguration virtually

A spokesman of the state government said here today that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will dedicate the Atal Tunnel Rohtang to the nation on October 3, has personally advised the former chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal to avoid their personal presence in this function in the wake of pandemic. He said that on the advice of PM, both former CMs have decided to abstain from the event and witness the event virtually.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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