About Atal Tunnel
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is a road construction executive force in India that provides support to Indian Armed Forces.
BRO develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighboring countries. This includes infrastructure operations in 19 states and three union territories (including Andaman and Nicobar Islands) and neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Tajikistan and Sri Lanka. As of 2021, BRO had constructed over 50,000 kilometres (31,000 mi) of roads, over 450 permanent bridges with a total length of over 44,000 metres (27 mi) length and 19 airfields in strategic locations. BRO is also tasked with maintaining this infrastructure including operations such as snow clearance.BRO is instrumental in significantly upgrading and building new India-China Border Roads. Officers and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the BRO. It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army's Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment (on deputation). BRO is also included in the Order of Battle of the Armed Forces, ensuring their support at any time.The organisation motto is Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam (everything is achievable through hardwork).
The BRO was formed on 7 May 1960 to secure India's borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states of the country.In order to ensure coordination and expeditious execution of projects, the Government of India set up the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Board and Defence Minister as Deputy Chairman. Today, the board exercises the financial and other powers of a Department of Government of India and is chaired by the Minister of State for Defence (Raksha Rajya Mantri, RRM). Among others, Chief(s) of Army and Air Staff, Engineer-in-Chief, Director General Border Roads (DGBR), FA(DS) are members of the BRDB. The Secretary of the Board exercises the powers of Joint Secretary to the Government of India. The executive head of the BRO is the DGBR who holds the rank of Lieutenant General.In a bid to boost border connectivity, BRO has been entirely brought under the Ministry of Defence in 2015. Earlier it received funds from the Ministry of Surface Transport under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.The organisations motto is Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam (everything is achievable through hardwork).
Atal Tunnel (also known as Rohtang Tunnel) is a highway tunnel built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway in Himachal Pradesh, India. At a length of 9.02 km, it is the longest tunnel above 10,000 feet (3,048 m) in the world and is named after former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The tunnel is at an elevation of 3,100 metres (10,171 ft) whereas the Rohtang Pass is at an elevation of 3,978 metres (13,051 ft). It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 3 October 2020. The cost of the entire project is ₹3,200 crore
The proposal for construction of tunnel across Rohtang pass was conceived way back in 1942 by Dr JB Auden, Geological Survey of India who at that time visited this pass with a view to divert water of Chandra river to Beas. Subsequently, in Jun 1983, the then CM, Himachal Pradesh in a letter to the then Prime Minister of India, mooted proposal for construction of a Highway tunnel across this pass to have an all-weather connectivity with Lahaul and Spiti Valley. The matter was then examined in the office of the Prime Minister in consultation with Ministry of Shipping and Transport (now Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways),
Planning Commission and Sectt BRDB in Feb 84 and it was decided that improvement of the road Manali-Sarchu should be included in the BRDB programme. However, considering the various issues involved in improvement of this road like the construction of Rohtang tunnel, various other structures at other passes, snow fall and gestation period for various works, it was decided that the development of this road be taken up by Improvement of the existing road to class 9 surfaced specifications to make it fit for more intensive use during fair weather. Simultaneously, the proposal for keeping the road open to traffic for longer period by adopting snow clearance measures should also be examined. Also survey, investigations and feasibility study for tunnel under the Rohtang pass and the structures required at other passes and other drift/avalanche locations should continue. It was in pursuance of the above directions, the works for Rs. 43 Crores as mentioned above were included in BRDB programme in July 1984 and the studies for considering the feasibility of construction of a tunnel across the Rohtang pass started in right earnest
In a meeting held in the room of Secretary BRDB on 15 November 1983, the importance and urgency for the geological investigations for Rohtang Tunnel were discussed. The meeting was attended by Director Engineering Geology of GSI and Director General Border Roads alongwith the concerned representatives. As per the decisions arrived at during this meeting, the GSI were to undertake investigations in the field season 1984, starting by May/June. To examine the broad terms of investigations, a meeting was arranged at Manali on 9 June 84 in which a pre-feasibility report prepared by HQ DGBR was discussed with the reps of GSI. This was a crucial meeting where the various alignments of the proposed tunnel were also discussed
The field studies were taken up by GSI teams in the month of June 84 and continued till end September 84. During the field investigations, a number of joint inspections of the area were carried out by the officers of BRO and the representatives of the GSI. During these joint inspections the selection of tunnel alignment and location of portal sites were discussed at length.After the investigations, GSI submitted a “Preliminary Geotechnical Report” on 12 Apr 85. This report highlighted, the choice of the tunnel alignment and the various geological aspects of the recommended alignment in particular and that of the Rohtang area in general. Taking into consideration the slope characteristics, approach and tunnel gradient, an alignment was suggested by GSI including the portal locations for South and North portal. The North Portal site of this alignment was selected on the left bank of river Chandra about 1 Km upstream of village Teling opposite the 79 Km stone on Manali-Leh road.
After the submission of prefeasibility report by BRO and the Preliminary Geotechnical report by GSI, a High Level Steering Committee and a Technical Committee to plan, execute and monitor the construction of a tunnel at Rohtang and to develop the Leh-Manali road into an all-weather route was formed in November 1985. Thereafter, in the year 2001-02, the matter gained importance and responsibility for preparation of DPR of this tunnel project was assigned to M/s RITES (A Govt PSU of Indian Railways). M/s RITES also engaged M/s GEOCONSULT (An Austrian consultancy firm) for preparation of Detailed Project Report of this tunnel.
Meanwhile, it was decided that a consultant will be engaged by the Deptt on the global tender basis for the detailed design of the tunnel and rendering advisory services during the construction of the project and ensuring desired quality control.
The breakthrough of tunnel has also taken place during Oct 2017 and thereafter, the pace of progress gained momentum significantly.Prime Minister Nehru discussed a rope way to Rohtang Pass with local tribes in 1960. Almost 39 years after, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, locals suggested his childhood friend Arjun Gopal visit him to talk about Rohtang Tunnel. Gopal and two companions, Chhering Dorje and Abhay Chand, moved to Delhi. After a years of discussions, Vajpayee went to Lahaul in June 2000 and declared that the Rohtang Tunnel would be constructed.RITES conducted a feasibility study.Atal Tunnel approach Inauguration was done on 26 May 2002 by former prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lt. Gen. Prakash Suri, Director General Border Roads (DGBR).
The commissioning of the access road construction for the Atal Tunnel by Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 26 May 2002In 2000, the project was estimated to cost ₹500 crore and be completed in seven years.On 26 May 2002,
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a tri-service organisation of the Defence Ministry specialising in road and bridge construction in difficult terrains, headed by Lt. Gen. Prakash Suri, PVSM, was put in charge of construction.The approach road to the tunnel entrance was inaugurated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However the project did not move beyond the tree-felling stage by May 2003. By December 2004, the cost estimate had grown to ₹900 crore.In May 2007, the government of Dr. Manmohan Singh awarded the contract to SMEC (Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation) International Private Limited, an Australian company, and the completion date was revised to 2014. However, there was no progress for the next three years, until May 2010.Finally, the Cabinet Committee on Security in UPA government cleared the Rohtang Tunnel Project. The work was awarded to a joint venture of AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, an Indian construction company of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, and STRABAG AG, Austria, in September 2009.
The drilling of the Rohtang Tunnel through the Himalayan ranges began on 28 June 2010 at the South Portal, 25 km (16 mi) north of Manali. Some of the anchoring and slope stabilisation work was subcontracted to Spar Geo Infra Pvt Ltd.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi renamed the tunnel as the Atal Tunnel, in honour of Shree Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on 25 December 2019, Vajpayee's birthday.The Rohtang Tunnel has been planned to ensure an all-seasons, all-weather road route to strategically important areas of Ladakh and the remote Lahaul-Spiti valley. However, the tunnel will provide this connectivity only up to Darcha, north of Keylong in the Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh. Connectivity to Ladakh will require more tunnels: either at Shikun La, or at the passes located on the present Leh-Manali road.
- The project was announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 3 June 2000. The work was entrusted to BRO on 6 May 2002.
- The foundation stone of the project was laid on 28 June 2010 by Sonia Gandhi in her capacity as the Chairperson of National Advisory Council.
- As of June 2012, two years after the start of the project, 3.5 km of the tunnel digging had been completed.
- Only a little progress was made in the next one year due to heavy ingress of water at serri nullah fault zone, that required constant dewatering and slowed the digging and blasting to a crawl.
- As of October 2013, a little more than 4 km of the tunnel had been dug. However, about 30 m portion of the roof of the tunnel collapsed towards the north portal on 17 October 2013 and the digging had to be stopped.
- As of September 2014, 4.4 km of the tunnel, i.e., half of 8.8 km planned length had been dug.
- As of December 2016, 7.6 km of the tunnel digging had been completed. Excavation was expected to be completed in 2017, with opening in the second half of 2019.
- As of 3 September 2017, 276 metres of the tunnel digging work remained.Tunnel to be opened for emergency services such as Ambulances and Fire engines by the winter.
- As on 13 October 2017 both ends of the tunnel met. The Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, visited the site on 15 October 2017.
- As on 22 November 2017, it was decided to allow patients to be carried through the under-construction tunnel only in the gravest of emergency when the helicopter service was not available and not to allow civilians to enter the tunnel before completion due to risks of falling rocks, lack of oxygen in the tunnel as ventilation system was yet to be installed, etc. and likely interruption in construction work due to presence of civilians.
- Sep 2018: the tunnel was used for evacuation of people stranded in Lahaul after sudden spell of bad weather blocked Rohtang La due to snowfall.
- Jan 2019: 90% work completed.
- Oct 2019: 100 metres work yet to be finished. To be opened for emergency traffic by Oct-2019 end. To be opened for general traffic by Sep-2020.
- Nov 2019: Bus service trial started through the yet-incomplete tunnel on 17 November 2019.A Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus carrying 44 passengers entered tunnel from the south portal and the passengers alighted at the north portal. The bus service operated for next five winter months for residents of Lahaul and Spiti valleys. Private vehicles were not allowed through the tunnel.
- Dec 2019: On 25 December the tunnel, which was known as Rohtang tunnel till then, was officially renamed as the Atal Tunnel.
- Sept 2020: 100% completion of project.
- Oct 2020: The tunnel was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 3 October 2020, in the presence of Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur and Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur.