Just 72 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world's longest highway tunnel—Atal Rohtang Tunnel in Himachal, hundreds of tourists and motorists have taken to over-speeding and racing in the newly opened tunnel which resulted in three accidents.
Several instances of negligent driving and "indecent behaviour" by tourists have been reported since opening of the tunnel as some did not adhere to the speed limit of 80km/hr, others stopped midway to click selfies.
"Three accidents were reported in a single day after the tunnel was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on October 3. The accidents were recorded by the CCTV cameras installed inside the tunnel. Showing a complete disregard for traffic rules, tourists and motorists have been clicking selfies while riding,” Brigadier K.P. Purushothaman , BRO Chief Engineer, Atal Tunnel was quoted as saying by news portal Outlook.
The BRO Chief Engineer also said that no one is allowed to station their vehicle anywhere in the middle of the tunnel. He further informed that he has requested for police deployment to prevent accidents.
“Once the inaugural function finished, there has been scant deployment of traffic police personnel, resulting in complete chaos and rash driving by tourists from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh,” he added.
The Atal Tunnel, a dream of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and named after him posthumously, has shortened the distance between Manali and Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, by 46 km, reducing the travel time by nearly three hours.
With a maximum speed limit of 80 km per hour, the tunnel is capable to take the traffic of 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day.
Meanwhile, the BRO has imposed a complete ban on movement of vehicles carrying inflammable items like diesel, petrol, LPG and kerosene oil for the next two months. The tunnel will also remain closed for two hours everyday, between 9 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 5 pm for carrying out maintenance activities.