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Tactical Move: Strategically significant 'Atal Tunnel' inaugurated!

By Priti Kumari

Amid the escalating tensions between India and China at borders, PM Modi on Saturday inaugurated the world's longest highway tunnel, to provide all-weather connectivity to the landlocked Lahaul-Spiti Valley.

PM Modi along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur opened the tunnel for everyone to use. It will connect Manali to Lahul -Spiti Valley which remains cut for almost half of the year due to snowfall. This 9,020m long tunnel will mitigate the distance of 46km and travelling time duration by 4 to 5 hours.

This tunnel is a significant example of 'engineering marvels' built by BRO with the assistance of the Turkish company 'Savronik. Some of the important features of this tunnel are that it is built 3,000m above the sea level, it also has a telephonic facility at every 150m, fire hydrant at every 60m, emergency exits at 500m. More importantly, it has an air quality monitor at every 1 km and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 m.

In 2019, NDA government for honouring former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee renamed the 'Rohtang Tunnel' as 'Atal Tunnel'. As the foundation of the tunnel was laid by 'Atal Ji ' in 2002. In the way of attacking UPA, Modi stated, "Projects related to improved border connectivity either never came out of the planning stage or those which did, got deleted or stuck. The same happened with Atal Tunnel." Modi added, "The delay not just causes inconvenience to people but the country also has to bear the loss on the economic front. In 2005, the estimated cost of this tunnel was projected at INR 950 crore, but due to continuous delay, the tunnel has now been completed after spending over INR 3,200 crore”. He firmly claimed that 'more connectivity means more development'.

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