Shimla, Mar 15 (PTI) Over 1.5 lakh vehicles, largely of tourists, have crossed the strategically important Atal Tunnel across the 13,058-ft-high Rohtang Pass near Manali in nearly five and half months since its inauguration, testifying to its credential as a prime tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh.
The tunnel, which was inaugurated on October 3 last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attracted such a high number of vehicles despite being closed for civilians for several days due to snowfall, said Kullu Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh on Monday.
The tunnel, the world's longest one at such a high altitude has become a prime tourist destination since it was thrown open to the public, he said.
The 9.02-km underpass connects Lahaul of Lahaul-Spiti district and Manali of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh.
The tunnel through which on an average 950 vehicles cross daily on Saturday saw the passage of 3,590 vehicles -- the highest number of vehicles to cross it on any single day this year till then, said Singh.
Earlier on December 27 last year, a record number of 5,450 vehicles had crossed the tunnel, he added.
Singh said the police have been trying their best to keep a hassle-free traffic movement across the tunnel to ensure commuters’ safety, said Singh, adding this has resulted in merely two vehicles violating traffic rules and promptly getting fined as well.
A total of 362 vehicles have been challaned till February this year for various traffic rule violations inside the Tunnel, the Kullu SP said, adding of them, 87 have been fined for over-speeding, 65 for rash driving and 210 for other traffic rule breaches.
Singh told PTI that the speed limit at the tunnel’s entrance has been fixed at 40 km per hour and that inside tunnel at 60 km per hour with digital speed indicators consistently reminding drivers of their speed.
With automatic vehicles’ number reader cameras installed and motor-bike borne traffic interceptors deployed inside the tunnel have been able to keep traffic violations in check, he said.
The SP said the police had earlier in December registered two cases and arrested 27 enthusiastic tourists for stopping their vehicles and creating nuisance in the Tunnel.
Several of these tourists had stopped their vehicles inside the tunnel, played music and started dancing which led to a traffic jam, he added.
Besides, 146 vehicles have been challaned for traffic violations from Solang nullah to the south portal of the Tunnel, he added. PTI DJI RAX RAX