The 8.8-km-long Atal tunnel Rohtang will shorten the distance of 474 km between Manali and Leh by 46 km, reducing the journey by two and half hours.
The construction of the landmark Rohtang Tunnel or the 'Atal Tunnel', named after former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is ready and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate it at 10 am on October 3.
The world's highest highway tunnel, built at 3,000 metre above the sea level between Himachal Pradesh's Manali and Leh in Ladakh, was announced by Vajpayee on June 3, 2000, but has been in the making for a long time because it faced a number of challenges along the way.
But now that it is made and ready to be operated, here are some of the key reasons why the Atal Tunnel construction is important:
>> The 8.8-km-long tunnel will shorten the distance of 474 km between Manali and Leh by 46 km, reducing the journey by two and a half hours.
>> The tunnel has the capacity to ply 3,000 vehicles per day, at the speed of up to 80 km per hour, under any weather condition.
>> The tunnel will provide a road link to Lahaul and Spiti in the winters. It will also accelerate troop mobility to strategic frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir.>> The completion of the tunnel also comes at a crucial time since India's tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remain high. Atal Tunnel, according to reports, will provide almost all-weather connectivity to the Indian Army troops stationed in Ladakh. Reports, however, also suggest that for that to happen smoothly, other tunnels will have to be constructed.