New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel, one of the world’s most challenging and a marvel of engineering motorways at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh. Built by the Border Roads Organisation, the tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours.Also Read - Breaking News LIVE: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Inaugurates New Campus of IIT-Jammu

“Atal tunnel will give new strength to India’s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity. There have been demands to improve border infrastructure but for a long time, such projects either couldn’t get out of the planning stage or got stuck midway”, said PM Modi after inaugurating the tunnel. Also Read - Indian Woman Techie, Employed at LinkedIn, Killed in Drug-Gang Shootout in Mexico Restaurant

He also requested the Ministry of Education to give a chance to the students of engineering & technical studies to do a case study of Atal tunnel. “I request the Ministry of Education that the students of engineering & technical studies related universities should be given a chance to do a case study of Atal Tunnel. The students must learn how this tunnel was built”, PM stated. He was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat. Also Read - Uttarakhand-Himachal Tragedy: 11 Missing Trekkers Dead, Massive Rescue Operations by IAF Underway

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken the decision to construct a 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. The Modi government decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel in December 2019 to honour the former prime minister who had passed away the previous year.

Here’s All You Need to Know About Atal Tunnel

The completion of the Atal tunnel is a key element in the Defence Ministry’s attempts to make the entire 475 km-long Manali-Keylong-Leh highway, used by the armed forces to reach forward areas in Ladakh bordering China and Pakistan, motorable almost round the year.

It is a horseshoe-shaped, single-tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and has an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres.

The world’s longest tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 metres(10,000 feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).

It has been designed for traffic density of 3000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day with a max speed of 80 kmph.

The south portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 metres, while the north portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 metres.

The tunnel was completed after 10 years of sheer hard work by the BRO with an outlay of Rs 3,200 crore.

“The Border Roads Organisation (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. The breakthrough from both ends was achieved on October 15, 2017”, a government statement said.

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

The tunnel’s foundation stone was laid by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010, in the Solang Valley near Manali, some 570 km from the national capital.