After a decade of sheer hard work of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the strategic Atal highway tunnel, one of the world’s most challenging and a marvel of engineering motorways, in the Himalayas that will also bring the infantry combat vehicles closer to the Line of Actual Control.
Donning a BRO cap, Modi interacted with BRO Director General Harpal Singh, who explained to him through a photo exhibition, about the hurdles the agency faced during the tunnel excavation. Singh explained in detail the challenges encountered during the heavy water influx of Seri rivulet.
The 9.02 km-long horseshoe-shaped single-tube, two-lane tunnel – the world’s longest motorable tunnel at over 3,000 metre above the sea level, came up under the 3,978 metre Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal range some 30 km from here in Himachal Pradesh.
Earlier, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur welcomed him along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur upon his arrival at the SASE Helipad near here.
“The all-weather tunnel can take any military traffic, even armoured vehicles,” a BRO official aware of the development told IANS.
However, the all-weather road to forward areas of Ladakh requires more tunnels, either at Shikunla or at the high passes located on the 475-km Manali-Leh road for round-the-year connectivity.
The tunnel construction, a blessing for the people of landlocked Lahaul-Spiti district who mark a new beginning in their lives this winter, was abandoned on numerous occasions, primarily due to the complex geology that included fracture zones and fault lines.