Manali: The 9.2-km Atal Tunnel that connects Manali with Leh, which also happens to be the world's longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet, is finally ready 10 years after construction began. The original estimated time to complete the ambitious was less than six years. The Atal Tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by approximately 46 kms and four hours can be saved by commuters.
Confirming the development to the media, chief engineer KP Purushothaman informed that there are CCTV cameras at every 60 meters and emergency exit tunnels at every 500 meters inside the tunnel. Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel in case of any fire incident, he informed, adding that the induction and de-induction of resources was a difficult task while it was under construction. The tunnel is 10.5 meters wide, including a 1-meter footpath on both sides.
Meanwhile, the Atal Tunnel project's director Colonel Parikshit Mehra said that many of the experts working within the team were of the opinion that the alignment of the tunnel should be changed.
Stating that this tunnel is the first step to the connectivity ladder for Leh, he added that the tunnel was a challenging project because the work was being done from two ends. One end was in North, across the Rohtang Pass which was accessible only for five months in a year due to harsh weather conditions.