Atal Tunnel Highway: A Breakthrough in Infrastructure Development for India
The Atal Tunnel Highway, also known as the Atal Rohtang Tunnel, is a 9.02 km long bi-directional single-tube roadway tunnel located in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is the world’s longest highway tunnel above the altitude of 10,000 feet and the highest highway tunnel in the world constructed at an altitude of 3060 meters above mean sea level.
The tunnel was constructed to provide all-seasons, all-weather road connectivity between Manali and the Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Prior to the construction of the tunnel, the Manali-Leh highway remained closed for six months due to heavy snowfall, which caused a major inconvenience to the locals and the Indian Army troops posted in the region.
The tunnel will provide year-long connectivity to the border areas and will also provide a strategic benefit to the country’s armed forces. Additionally, the tunnel is named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and is considered a tribute to his contribution to the development of Himachal Pradesh and the nation.
The History & Construction of Atal Tunnel Highway
The Highway is a modern engineering marvel that has significantly improved connectivity between Manali and Lahaul-Spiti valley in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
The idea of constructing a tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity to the region was first proposed in 1983. However, it was only in 2000 that the project was approved by the Indian government, and construction began in 2010. The tunnel was inaugurated in October 2020 by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The construction of the tunnel presented numerous challenges, including extreme weather conditions, high altitude, and difficult terrain. The tunnel was constructed at an altitude of 3,100 meters above sea level and required the removal of over 3 million cubic meters of rock. The construction of the tunnel took almost ten years to complete and involved the use of modern tunnel-boring machines and drilling equipment. Over 1,500 workers were involved in the construction process, with safety being a top priority throughout the project.
Safety Measures Implemented for Drivers Using the Atal Tunnel Highway
The Atal Tunnel Highway, being one of the longest highway tunnels in the world, has implemented several safety measures to ensure the safety of drivers using the tunnel. Some of these measures include:
- Ventilation System: The tunnel has an advanced ventilation system that helps to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for drivers. The system monitors the air quality and temperature inside the tunnel and regulates it accordingly.
- Emergency Lighting: The tunnel is equipped with emergency lighting that provides visibility in case of power failure or any other emergency situation.
- Fire-Fighting System: The tunnel has a state-of-the-art fire-fighting system that helps to control and contain any fire that may occur inside the tunnel. The system includes fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and other fire-fighting equipment.
- CCTV Cameras: The tunnel has CCTV cameras installed at regular intervals to monitor the traffic inside the tunnel. The cameras help to detect any accidents or incidents and enable the authorities to respond quickly.
- Emergency Exits: The tunnel has emergency exits at regular intervals that can be used in case of any emergency situation.
- Speed Limit: The speed limit inside the tunnel is regulated to ensure the safety of drivers. The speed limit is set at 80 km/h, and drivers are required to adhere to it.