Rohtang (HP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel, which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours, at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh.
Atal Tunnel, built by the Border Roads Organisation, is the longest highway tunnel in the world.
The 9.02-km tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year, the Prime Minister’s Office has said, noting that the valley was earlier cut off for about six months every year due to heavy snowfall.
Modi was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken the decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass on June 3, 2000, and the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.
The Modi government decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel in December 2019 to honour the former prime minister who had passed away the previous year.