PM Modi inaugurates Atal Tunnel connecting Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley

Manali: View of world's longest high-altitude tunnel on Manali-Leh national highway, ahead of its inauguration by PM Narendra Modi on Oct. 3, in Manali, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The 9-km tunnel built at an altitude of about 10,000 feet above sea level will shorten the distance between Manali and Leh. (PTI Photo)(PTI29-09-2020_000116B)

New Delhi: The Atal Tunnel, an engineering marvel which connects Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti valley, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. 

The 9.02-km-long path that goes under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range at an altitude of 3,000 metres is the world's longest high-altitude road tunnel.

The construction of Atal Tunnel was headed by Keralite K P Purushothaman. The Border Road's Organisation's chief engineer hails from Kannur and was leading a 700 member team.

The historic decision to construct the tunnel was taken in 2000 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. In December 2019, the Union government decided to name the strategic tunnel after the former prime minister.

The Atal Tunnel will help travellers bypass the Rohtang Pass, which gets closed for nearly six months every year during winters. It would also help commuters save a distance of around 46km to Ladakh. 

Apart from adding immensely to the convenience of the commuters, it would also play a pivotal role in India's political and defence strategies of this sensitive area. 

Another intriguing feature of the tunnel is the provision of an escape route under the main road that can act as an emergency exit in case of any untoward accident.