Good News amid Covid-19 pandemic, world’s longest highway tunnel inaugurated in Himachal Pradesh

In a significant development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 9.02-km-long Rohtang tunnel is “world’s longest highway” tunnel and is named Atal Tunnel, Rohtang.

The construction of the Atal Tunnel connecting Manali with Leh, which is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet, has been completed in a span of 10 years whereas the original estimated time was less than six years.

It is being told that the tunnel will give all-weather connectivity to the remote and border areas of the state. The strategically important project has been completed at a cost of around Rs 3,200 crore.

Taking to Twitter, PM Modi wrote, “Fulfilling Atal Ji’s dream of top quality infrastructure. Will be in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow to dedicate the #AtalTunnel in Rohtang to the nation. This is an iconic infrastructure project built at a height of 10,000 feet”.

“The #AtalTunnel will solve a major problem of connectivity in the region. It has several salient features and will further ‘Ease of Living’ for local citizens. Will also join public programmes in Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley,” he said in another tweet.

During the inauguration of Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh, PM Modi took a jibe at the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for its lack of focus on the development of border infrastructure and compromising with the country’s security.

He also said that the previous governments had deliberately delayed the construction of Atal Tunnel. He also pointed out that if the work had continued at the same pace on the project, it would have been completed in 2040.

“We completed the work in just six years that would have taken 26 years. Atal ji laid the foundation stone of the approach road of this tunnel in 2002. Till 2013-2014, progress was made only on 1,300 meters of this tunnel. After 2014, the project progressed with unprecedented pace,” PM said.

Prime Minister Modi said the Atal Tunnel has not only realised Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s dream but has also ended the decades-long wait of the people of Himachal Pradesh.

The prime minister said that his government has deployed all its strength to develop border infrastructure, adding that never before has work been done at such a large scale, be it building roads, bridges or tunnels.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that the Rohtang tunnel project was the dream of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee which has now been fulfilled by the Modi government. 

There are CCTV cameras at every 60 metres and emergency exit tunnels at every 500 metres inside the tunnel. The tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometres and four hours can be saved. Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel in case of any fire incident.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.