Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world's longest highway tunnel, the Atal Tunnel at its South Portal in Manali on October 3. The 9.02 km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti throughout the year. Earlier, the Spiti Valley was cut off for about six months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The Atal Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 ft) from the mean sea level (MSL). It reduces the road distance by 46 km between Manali and Leh, and the time by about four to five hours.
The tunnel incorporates state-of-the-art electromechanical safety systems including semi-transverse ventilation, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) controlled fire-fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. Prime Minister Modi travelled in the tunnel from the South Portal to the North Portal and also visited the emergency egress tunnel that was built into the main tunnel itself. He also witnessed a pictorial exhibition on the making of the tunnel on the occasion.