In 2024, when you will visit Kullu-Manali for a holiday trip, your car or bus will pass through nearly seven long tunnels. In this advancement, a 2.9km-long tunnel has been completed at Aut, about 60km from Manali, on Saturday.
After completion of all the 14 tunnels between Kiratpur and Manali, travel time to Manali will decrease drastically. The journey will be extremely thrilling and safe as well. Every time you will come out of a dark tunnel, it will open up to a beautiful and different landscape.
Currently, there is only one such motorable tunnel on Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali national highway at Aut. The length of the tunnel is about 2.8km. Meanwhile, 8.9km-long Rohtang tunnel on Manali-Leh highway is also expected to open for traffic by 2020.
These tunnels will also cut short the distance. Once four-laning of the Kiratpur-Manali national highway is complete, travel time between Chandigarh and Manali will cut short from 10 hours to 7 hours. Similarly, it will take nearly 11 to 12 hours to travel from Delhi to Manali.
The boring of 2.9km-long motorable tunnel, one of the 10 such tunnels being built by National Highway Authority of Indian (NHAI) between Aut and Pandoh in Mandi district of Himachal, completed on Saturday. The work has completed five months before the deadline by Afcons, the company that has been awarded the tunneling job last year.
A total of 14 tunnels are proposed to be built to make Kiratpur-Kullu road a four-lane highway. One of the challenging tunnels, work on which had started in September last year, is ready for final finishing.
The boring of the tunnel had started from both sides with New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), the same method which was applied to build the Rohtang tunnel. The engineers from both ends met with each other in the middle of the tunnel on Saturday. The company officials claim that two more tunnels would be ready before the deadline by end of this year.
NHAI regional director GS Sanga visited Aut for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was impressed by the work progress by the company. “Two more tunnels will be ready this year. The project would be ready within stipulated time period,” he said.
Afcons Infrastructure Ltd project director RK Singh said they have a target to complete tunneling work within 42 months. “We are working day and night to achieve the target. The tunnels would be very modern and equipped with all the facilities. These tunnels are going to be an attraction for the people,” he said.
Four-laning of Pandoh-Aut stretch is the most challenging task as the region has loose strata which slide regularly. There is no possibility of widening of the road here as one edge of the existing road is secured by lose mountain face while other edge has deep gorge with Beas flowing deep below.
The only option that engineers could find was to widen the road at possible areas and make tunnels at risky zones.