PM Modi to inaugurate Atal Tunnel by September 2020
On August 15, 2020, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minsiter Jai Ram Thakur announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate “Atal Tunnel” by the end of September 2020.
The tunnel is being built under Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal range on the Leh-Manali highway. It is located at 3,100 metres above the sea level. The length of the tunnel is 8.8 kilo metres. The route is important as it feeds military supplied to the military sub sector that are located in Siachen Glacier and Aksai Chin.
The proposal of the tunnel dates back to 1860. It was proposed for the first time by the Moravian Mission. After 139 years, PM Vajpayee brought in the proposal again. In 2000, the tunnel construction was estimated to be 5 billion USD. In 2002, the Border Road Organization was entrusted to construct the tunnel. It was initially named as Rohtang tunnel. Later in 2019, PM Modi renamed it as Atal Tunnel.
The tunnel will reduce distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilo metres.
There are more than 46 avalanche sites on approaches to the tunnel. The most challenging task in constructing the tunnel was that the excavation. The excavation of the tunnel was done from both ends. However, the pass closes during winters and hence the excavation was done only from south portal in winters.
Keylong Railway Station
The Keylong Railway station located on the Leh-Manali Highway was the first under tunnel railway station in India.
The pass connects Kullu valley and the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh. The pass lies on the watershed between Chenab and Beas rivers.
Border Road Organization
The BRO constructs and maintains the roads in Indian borders. It operates under the Ministry of Defence and the officers working under the organization are selected through UPSC. The operations of BRO are spread across Bhutan, India, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan.