Atal Tunnel ,Rohtang – Longest Traffic Tunnel of the world at 10,000 feet

India is not new to infrastructure that spells marvel. From gigantic bird sculptures to long ropeways, the country always has something to offer. Now, it is about to welcome the Rohtang Tunnel, also called the Atal Tunnel. After the civil works in the tunnel are completed by August 31 . Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate it in month of September,2020 . Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, will be the longest traffic tunnel of the world at 10,000 feet from the sea level.

Why is the tunnel unique in its own way?

  • The 9.02 kms long Atal Tunnel , named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee JI . It passes under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range on the Manali-Leh Highway at an altitude of 3,060 metre at the lowest and 3,078 metre at the peak .
  • The tunnel is 10.5 metre wide and has a height of 5.52 metre and a car can zip through at 80 km/hr . With such wideness single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fire proof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself .
  • The horseshoe shaped single-tube , double lane tunnel had many firsts.With a length of 9.02 km , it is the longest tunnel in the world at an altitude of over 3000 metres or 10,000 ft above the sea level.

Country’s first escape tunnel

  • It is also the country’s first tunnel to have an escape tunnel within the main tunnel because of the topography. Globally , escape tunnels are built separately along the main tunnel.
  • This would provide an emergency exit in case of any untoward incident , which may render the main tunnel unstable.
  • There are escape tunnels after every 500 metres with a vehicle speed permitted to 80km/hr and around 3,000 vehicles can run at once on both the lanes of the tunnel.

Technolody used

  • Rowa flyer technology , which allows the engineers to work at inverted levels . This is also the first tunnel to deploy such technology.
  • Paretkar ji (Satish Paretkar, Director of Hydro & Underground business unit at Afcons ) mentioned the toughest job to execute was 410 metres long Seri Nalla (a brook) ,which was emitting over 125 litres of water per second .It took them more than 3 years to drill those 410 metres

Tunnel Features

  • Telephone facility at every 150 m , fire hydrants at every 60 m ,emergency exit at every 500 m
  • There is also air quality monitoring system after 1 km and a turning cavern at every 2.2 km .
  • It also also had a broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250 m.
  • With a vehicle speed permitted to maximum 80 km/hr and around 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks a day .

Making of the tunnel

  • The tunnel has consumed 14,508 metric tonnes of steel and 2,36,596 metric tonnes of cement, and escavated out 14 lakh cubic metres soil and rocks , using the drill and blast technique for excavation and the new Austrian Tunneling method for construction .
  • Afcons deployed over 1,000 workmen and 150 engineers . The engineering design was done by Australian Snowy Mountain Engineering Company .
  • In Seri Nalla Zone in the south portal , engineers faced regular collapse of tunnels face due to bad ecological conditions .
  • At the peak , tunnel is 2.5 km deep under the mountain belly at the South Portal side and lowest burden is 1.5 km .
  • The whole terrain is so dangerous that there are 13 avalanche zones around the tunnel . Every worker is given an electronic chip that will warn of any danger . During 10 years there was no fatal accident

Significance of the tunnel

  • Currently , the movement of armed forces to the forward areas in Ladakh from the Manali side is feasible only from July to Mid-November. So , this tunnel is extremely significant from the military logistics point of view . It is one of the only two routes into Ladakh and will become key to resupplying military garrisons .
  • This tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh nearly by 45 km and drive time by around five hours . It will also save crores of rupees in transport costs in the long run .
  • It would also give boost to tourism activities in Lahaul – Spiti district besides creating employment and self-employment avenues in the area
  • The ambitious Atal Tunnel would provide all weather connectivity to Leh and Forward areas of Ladakh .

Tunnel’s Conception

  • The tunnel was conceived way back in 1983 by Indira Gandhi government to make the Manali – Leh road all-weather
  • But it was only in 2002, Atal Bihari Vajpayee government declared the construction of tunnel and laid the foundation for approach road to the tunnel.
  • The project began to move only in September 2009
  • A joint venture of Shapoorji Pallonji Group run Afcons and Strabag of Austria won the Engineering Procurement & Construction tender from Board Road Organisation in 2009.
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