Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s longest highway tunnel, Atal tunnel, at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday, October 3. The tunnel viewed as significant from the strategic point in view of the on-going Sino-India border tension is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 10,000 feet from the Mean Sea Level. The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali in Himachal Pradesh with Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year reducing journey time by 3-4 hours. Earlier, the valley was cut off for about six months each year due to heavy snowfall. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was present on the occasion. At a public meeting, PM Modi said now this region is nearer to the national capital. Handicrafts and other local products can be marketed all over the nation courtesy the Atal Tunnel. Supplies of the defence forces can be transported quicker, he added.PM Modi also inspected the escape egress tunnel. A large number of people in their traditional attire gathered to witness the long-awaited event and hear Prime Minister Modi. A lot of enthusiasm was seen among the locals about the inauguration of the tunnel. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in view of the Prime Minister’s visit. He unveiled the plaque to mark the inauguration of Atal Tunnel and drove through the Atal tunnel to Sishu the north portal of the tunnel in Lahaul-Spiti from where he flagged off the HRTC bus from the north to south portal through the tunnel towards Manali. Major General (Dr) GD Bakshi says the Atal tunnel has come at a most critical juncture during India – China faces off at LAC. The need to move large forces to eastern Ladakh has more than doubled considering the Winter stocking requirement.
Atal Tunnel Provides a paradigm Shift in Op- logistics. It could not have been better timed, he added.PM Modi interacted with the construction team and officials of BRO. In view of ongoing corona crises and to observe physical distancing not more than 200 people were allowed to attend each event. The state government had installed LED screens at district headquarters and other places so that people could watch a live broadcast of the inauguration of the historic Atal tunnel from Rohtang. Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has supplied the major portion of steel for the construction of the Atal Rohtang Tunnel. SAIL has supplied more than nine thousand tonnes of steel, out of the 15 thousand tonnes of steel used in the entire project. Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has complimented SAIL and saying this tunnel will be of great significance to the locals as well as for strategic movement. Dharmendra Pradhan said the state-of-the-art tunnel will boost connectivity between the Spiti Valley and the rest of India and go a long way in boosting tourism in the Himalayan region.