Know All About Atal Tunnel and it’s Strategic Importance

Prime  Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s longest highway tunnel in Himachal Pradesh on 3rd October. Depending on its situation, the Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh has a significant Strategic Importance. The tunnel was initially named as Rohtang tunnel which later on renamed after Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Here we will discuss Atal Tunnel current affairs for UPSC and other competitive government job examinations. 

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Know All About Atal Tunnel and it's Strategic Importance

History of Rohtang Tunnel Project 
  • The former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru envisaged a ropeway to Rohtang Pass for the sake of local tribes in 1960.
  • Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the Rohtang tunnel project in 2002.
  • The announcement was followed by the feasibility study of the project which was carried out by RITES limited.
  • The initial estimated project cost was clocked at ₹500 crores.
  • The official technical and strategical approval for the project was given to The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in 2003.
  • The bidding of the tenders of the project was started in 2007.
  • The foundation stone of the project was laid in 2010 by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
  • The project was expected to be completed by February 2015 but the pace of the project slowed down due to various natural phenomena like the heavy water flow of Seri Nullah which flows over the project, the rock structure in the Himalayan range, etc.
Atal Tunnel Facts
  • Atal Tunnel Length: 9.02 km
  • The tunnel is named after the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • The tunnel is situated in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 10,000 feet from the Mean Sea Level (MSL)
  • The tunnel passes through the Rohtang pass
  • The tunnel has been structured to withstand a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day,  and a maximum speed of each vehicle of 80 kmph
  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) completed the project
  • The cost of the project is ₹3,200 crores
Salient Features of The Atal tunnel

  • The tunnel is designed to provide all-weather connectivity
  • The tunnel contains an emergency escape tunnel in the main tunnel in case of any contingency
  • The tunnel is equipped with a broadcasting system and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 meters
  • The tunnel was designed with semi-transverse ventilation and SCADA controlled fire fighting system to give an extra edge to its security.
  • The tunnel also serves telephone service in every 150 meters and emergency exit in every 500 meters gap
  • BSNL has installed three 4G base transceiver stations (BTSs) for uninterrupted 4G connectivity throughout the tunnel
Atal Tunnel Map View

Atal Tunnel in map

Strategic Importance of Atal Tunnel
  • The Atal tunnel connects Manali, Himachal Pradesh to the Lahaul-Spiti valley, Leh and reduces on-road travel time to Leh up to five hours and on-road travel distance by 46 km. It gives a significant strategic upper hand and an upgraded dimension to India’s border infrastructure amidst the India-China border dispute in Ladakh. Transportation of troops and supplies will be easier and faster through the tunnel in an emergency.
  • The tunnel will be very beneficial to the farmers, horticulturalists as they will have a faster and shorter route to New Delhi to sell their products in the markets.
  • The tunnel will boost the tourism ecosystem in North India (Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh region)
  • The project is a boon for the people of Lahaul-Spiti valley as the region remains cut from the rest of India for almost half of the year due to heavy snow-fall.
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