Claimed to be the world’s longest motorable tunnel, the 9.02-km long horseshoe-shaped Atal Tunnel which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on October 3rd turned into new death spot with a series of accidents.
The tunnel which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours turned into a tourist spot housing overspeed, negligent driving and indecent behaviour by tourists.
While the speed limit of 80km/hr needs to be maintained, many were noticed flunking the norm which ended by in three major accidents in less than 24 hours.
“Three accidents were reported in a single day as tourists and motorists have been clicking selfies while riding showing a complete disregard for traffic rules,” said Brigadier KP Purushothaman, BRO Chief Engineer, Atal Tunnel. The BRO Chief Engineer also said that no one is allowed to station their vehicle anywhere in the middle of the tunnel.
As complained by the Rohtang village head, incidents of throwing garbage by tourists in the area have also been witnessed. A Border Roads Organisation official, meanwhile, said the tunnel would remain closed for public daily from 9-10 am and 4-5 pm for carrying out maintenance activities.
The tunnel which had been the dream of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is capable to take the traffic of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed limit. This tunnel is believed to bring economic prosperity to the otherwise snow-bound, inhospitable region which depends on agriculture.