The construction of the 9.2-km Atal Tunnel that connects Manali with Leh, 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.
“Atal Tunnel, connecting Manali to Leh, is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet. The estimated period for completion of this tunnel was less than six years but it was completed in 10 years,” chief engineer KP Purushothaman said.
“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 46km and four hours can be saved,” he said.
Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel in case of any fire incident.
“The induction and de-induction of resources was a difficult task while it was under construction. We did face a lot of challenges but together we were able to complete its construction. The tunnel is 10.5 metres wide, including a 1-metre footpath on both sides,” he said.
Atal Tunnel project director Colonel Parikshit Mehra said that many experts working within the team were of the opinion that the alignment of the tunnel should be changed.
“We have had this dream to connect Leh and this was the first step to the connectivity ladder. This tunnel was a challenging project because we were working from two ends. The other end was in North, across the Rohtang Pass which was accessible only for five months in a year,” he said.