Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning inaugurated the all-weather and strategically significant Atal Tunnel that connects Manali in Himachal Pradesh with Leh in Ladakh. The foundation laying of the world’s longest highway tunnel was laid by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on 28 June, 2010, an endeavour which is likely to prove to be a boon for the inhabitants of the entire region, especially farmers and patients suffering from deadly diseases. The farmers of Leh region will now not have to wait for their produce to rot before reaching the nearest Kullu mandi. Besides it will facilitate in the movement of troops to Ladakh, which has of late acquired a great military significance. Commodities indispensable for daily life like food, vegetables and petrol will now be available throughout the year.
The people of Lahaul and surrounding areas will now be connected to the rest of the country for the whole year. Earlier, due to cold weather, they had to remain cut-off from the rest of the country for at least six months.
As mentioned before, the tunnel is the longest highway tunnel (9.02 km) in the world and is built at an altitude of 3,000 metres. It will reduce the distance between Manali and Lahaul by about 46 km and will cut the travel time by five hours.
With a maximum speed limit of 80 km/hr., the tunnel has the capacity to carry around 3,000 four-wheelers and 1,500 trucks per day. It took almost ten years to complete the project and about 15,000 tonnes of steel has been used to build it.
The tunnel is named after former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee and was slated to be completed in March of this year but because of the Corona Virus pandemic the project was delayed.