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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday inaugurate Atal Tunnel, which will cut down the distance between Leh and Manali by 46km and the travel time by four to five hours, in Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang.

“We have made all preparations and we are waiting for the Prime Minister. It’s a moment of joy for the people of Himachal Pradesh. This is a historical moment,” Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jairam Thakur was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

“The tunnel holds great significance in the light of the situation with neighbouring countries and added that it is not only significant from a national security point of view but also be very helpful for the commute of the people,” Thakur said.

“Around 200 people will be present at the event. Prime Minister is sending out a message that how close Himachal is to his heart. He is appearing physically for a development project. We wanted a huge inauguration event. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only a small event is being organised. The tunnel will also send a strong message for a border security point of view,” he added.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh visited the Atal Tunnel on Friday along with Thakur and reviewed the preparations for the inaugural function of Atal Tunnel.

Here are 10 things to know about the Atal Tunnel:

* The decision to construct Atal Tunnel was taken on June 3, 2000, by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The foundation stone for the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.

* On 25 December 2019, the Rohtang tunnel was renamed as Atal Tunnel in the memory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

* Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 meters.

* The 9.02km long tunnel has been built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.

* Atal Tunnel, which is the longest highway tunnel in the world, reduces the road distance by 46km between Manali and Leh and the travel time by about four to five hours.

* It is a horseshoe-shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres.

* It has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr.

* The tunnel is 10.5-metre wide and a 3.6×2.25 metre fireproof emergency egress tunnel has been built into the main tunnel itself.

* The tunnel is equipped with various security features such as CCTV cameras, telephone connections at every 150 metres for any emergency, fire hydrant mechanism at every 60 metres and auto incident detection system.

* There are evacuation lighting and exit signs at every 25 metres and broadcasting system throughout the stretch.

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