The Himachal Pradesh Police have proposed that the state government bar the entry of army and civilian trucks carrying arms, ammunition and explosives through the strategic Atal Tunnel across the Rohtang Pass that provides all-weather connectivity to the border district of Lahaul-Spiti.
The proposal is among the recommendations made by a five-member committee set up by state Director General of Police, Sanjay Kundu to suggest measures for the tunnel’s security. Headed by Inspector General of Police, Security and Intelligence, Daljit Singh Thakur, the committee comprises Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Range, Madhusudhan; Superintendent of Police, Kullu, Gaurav Singh; Superintendent of Police, Lahaul and Spiti, Rajesh Dharmani; and a representative of the Intelligence Bureau.
The committee submitted its proposals to Chief Secretary, Anil Khachi, recently and suggested that the movement of vehicles carrying explosives be barred from plying through the 9.02-km tunnel, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3.
The members of the committee had earlier visited Jawahar Tunnel in Banihal and the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Tunnel at Chenani-Nashri to study the security set-up adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The committee also proposed multipurpose barriers at Solang, 14 km down the South Portal at Dhundhi, and at Teling close to the North Portal in Sissu. It asked the government to make budgetary provisions for two police stations, one at the North Portal that will be supervised by the Lahaul and Spiti SP, and the other at Dhundhi at the South Portal under the jurisdiction of the Kullu police.
Both police stations will have 45 personnel each to monitor the security and deal with law and order. They will be provided two police control room (PCR) vans to manage traffic inside the tunnel. The Atal Tunnel is 25km from Manali and located at an altitude of 3,060 metres, while the North Portal near Teling is situated at 3,071 metres.
It is a horseshoe-shaped, single-tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres. Built at a cost of Rs 3,300 crore, the tunnel is significant from the defence point of view. The Border Roads Organisation completed work on the tunnel in a decade, overcoming geological challenges that included the difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah fault zone.