The tunnel will remain open throughout the year Credit: DrJitendraSingh/Twitter

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Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the 9.02 km-long Atal Tunnel connecting Manali to the Lahaul-Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh. The tunnel will remain open throughout the year as opposed to the valley being cut off for about six months every year amid heavy snowfall.

PM Modi was accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh, chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat chief minister Jairam Thakur, minister of state Anurag Singh Thakur, and director general Border Roads Organisation Lt Gen Harpal Singh at the inauguration ceremony.

Atal Tunnel, named after former prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee, reduces the road distance by 46km between Manali and Leh and the travel time by about four to five hours. The tunnel has been built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres from the mean sea level.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) mentioned that the single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres is horse-shoe shaped and has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr.

The PMO said Modi will participate in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley after attending the inauguration function at South Portal, Manali.

Rajnath Singh had on Friday inspected the Atal Tunnel, along with chief minister Thakur and Union minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur.

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