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Rohtang Pass Highway Tunnel, Most Ambitious and Expensive Undertaking of Its Kind

The 8.8-km long horseshoe shaped tunnel - the world's longest motorable tunnel 3,000 metres above sea level

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Rohtang Pass, Highway Tunnel, Avalanche
Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) has designed mechanical structures to ensure the safety of motorists by countering avalanches. Pixabay

The construction of one of the world’s most challenging motorways – the Rohtang Pass highway tunnel – in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh is likely to be completed by 2020, according to the project engineers.

However, a daunting task ahead is to make the snow avalanche-prone roads, located at altitudes ranging above 3,000 metres and leading to the tunnel, safe for the motorists as well as accessible round the year.

For this, Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) has designed mechanical structures to ensure the safety of motorists by countering avalanches on both ends of the tunnel that remain under snow even during peak summer.

The 8.8-km long horseshoe shaped tunnel – the world’s longest motorable tunnel 3,000 metres above sea level, under the 3,978-metre Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal range – has 45 avalanche-prone spots and aims to provide all-season connectivity to the landlocked Lahaul Valley from the picturesque resort town of Manali.

Rohtang Pass, Highway Tunnel, Avalanche
The construction of one of the world’s most challenging motorways – the Rohtang Pass highway tunnel. Pixabay

Engineers of SASE, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory, said that self-escape snow galleries have been designed for the safety of motorists after studying the local dynamics of avalanches like force and velocity.

It is for the first time that SASA has designed snow galleries.

SASE Scientist Rajesh Verma told IANS that three snow galleries are under construction at the tunnel’s south portal from the Dhundi side.

The length of a gallery varies from 40 metres to 130 metres and would be constructed before the tunnel completion.

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He said the other mechanical structures on the 12-km stretch towards the south portal are five deflector steel walls and a bridge to withhold an avalanche.

Likewise, a 250-m long catch dam is under construction towards tunnel’s north portal to check erosion of falling debris along the road.

Official said sensors would be installed along both roads to monitor the behaviour of the snow and flashfloods round the year.

The most ambitious and expensive undertaking of its kind, the excavation of the tunnel was completed in October 2017. Now the civil engineering work is on.

Rohtang Pass, Highway Tunnel, Avalanche
However, a daunting task ahead is to make the snow avalanche-prone roads, located at altitudes ranging above 3,000 metres. Pixabay

An engineer involved in the tunnel construction told IANS that electrical and ventilation works are in progress.

“The tunnel most likely to be made operational by May-June 2020,” he added.

The project is being undertaken by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a wing of the Defence Ministry, in collaboration with Afcons, a joint venture with Strabag AG.

The Rs 1,495-crore tunnel’s foundation stone was laid by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010, in the Solang Valley near Manali, some 300 km from Chandigarh.

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Official sources said the tunnel had missed its February 2015 deadline owing to tough geographical conditions in the Himalayas along with harsh climatic conditions, besides a limited working season of six months in the tunnel’s north portal.

But the delay of almost five years will face a cost overrun of Rs 2,000-2,500 crore.

Taming the glacial-fed Seri rivulet inside the tunnel was one of the biggest challenges for the engineers.

It’s a tributary of the Beas river and the tunnel alignment is crossing beneath the rivulet.

Situated in the Pir Panjal ranges, the Rohtang Pass highway tunnel will provide ample room for two-way traffic and is designed to cater to a maximum vehicular speed of 80 km per hour.

Upon completion, it will also be a boon for the cold deserts of Lahaul Valley, where over 20,000 people remain cut off from the rest of the country in winter owing to the closure of the Rohtang Pass.

Besides reducing road distance by approximately 46 km and saving travel time of five hours between Manali and Keylong, headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, 3,000 vehicles can ply per day in the tunnel under any weather condition.

The completion of the Rohtang tunnel is a key element in the Defence Ministry’s attempts to make the entire 475 km-long Manali-Keylong-Leh highway, used by the armed forces to reach forward areas in Ladakh bordering China and Pakistan, motorable round the year, officials said.

The strategic importance of the Manali-Leh link was realised by the Indian government almost two decades ago when, during the Kargil conflict, Pakistan tried to cut off the Srinagar-Leh road in a bid to restrict road access to Ladakh.

Currently, the movement of armed forces to the forward areas in Ladakh from the Manali side, which doesn’t fall within the firing range of Pakistani forces, is feasible only from June to mid-December. (IANS)

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Home is Where Mountains Are ! Rundown of 7 Mountains in India

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Beautiful mountains in India
Manali in India. Pixabay

Sep 20, 2017: Mountains are simply attractive, but the blooms and lush greenery creates a lovely shading which makes them appear even more alluring. India is blessed with such splendid sights and eye soothing mountain ranges.

Take a look at these 7 magnificent mountains in India

Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Valley of flowers, Garhwal Uttarakhand India. Wikimedia

Valley of flower is situated in Uttarakhand, also Known as God’s own land. The impressive panoramas of the mountains and valleys of the downtown ought to be exceptionally noted. This place is brimmed with distinction.

Chandratal Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Different colors of Chandratal lake. Wikimedia

Its magnificence is conceived by its snow-clad mountains, waterways, and lakes. There befall peace and solace by seeing them.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rohtang Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Beautiful mountains in India
Rohtang Pass, Manali. Wikimedia

The wonderful valley of Rohtang Pass here gives a feeling of paradise on earth. In the meantime, the magnificence of the Solang valley adds four moons to the perfection of Rohtang.

Kanchenjunga Mountain, Sikkim

Beautiful mountains in India
This is the view of the great Kanchenjunga Mountain range in Sikkim taken in the morning at a freezing temperature. Wikimedia

Every scene of Kanchenjunga situated in Sikkim is unmatched and wonderful in itself. The mountains secured with snow, streams ascending through the mountains heighten the magnificence of this place.

Beautiful mountains in India

Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Aesculus indica, Horse Chestnut, Pithoragarh, Himalayas. Wikimedia

This area is the easternmost Himalayan region in Uttarakhand, also known as the little Kashmir. High Himalayan mountains topped with snow, emerald grasslands and meadows is a sight full of astonishment.

Ranikhet, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Ranikhet (Beauty of Himalaya valley). Wikimedia

Located in the Kumaon mountain, the Ranikhet slope is arranged amongst Nainital and Almora. It is encompassed by woods from all sides, the name of the slope of Ranikhet, which is named after Rani Padmini. The excellence of this place are the fundamental focuses of fascination.

Beautiful mountains in India

Rishikesh, Uttrakhand

Beautiful mountains in India
Monsoon in Rishikesh. Wikimedia

The bright slopes and valleys spread over the city makes the place even more alluring.

Prepared by Naina Mishta of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


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