Bengaluru: It was a proud moment for the Malayalis when the Prime Minister inaugurated the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang, the world's longest tunnel, to the nation on October 3.

India now boasts of the highest altitude tunnel in the world, the Atal tunnel, and the man who made the ambitious project a reality happens to be a Malayali — Border Roads Organisation Chief Engineer KP Purushothaman from Echoor in Kannur.

He graduated from Kannur and Polytechnic. He then holds a PG Diploma and MBA in Construction Management. He joined the Border Roads of Organization in 1987. His first assignment was as Andaman Nicobar Assistant Executive Engineer. He has also served in Rajasthan, Nagaland, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He also served on deputation in Kerala from 2015 to 2017. He was also honoured with the Distinguished Service Medal in 2019 for his services to the country.

As quoted by Manorama Online, Purushothaman said, “It is a 9.02 km-long tunnel dug in the mountains at an altitude of 3,000 metres, or 10,000 feet, above sea level. This is what makes the Atal tunnel different. At this height, this is the longest and hardest tunnel in the world. The tunnel at the Pir Panjal Range in the Himalayas has been completed by providing all modern security systems and features that are available today.”

The construction of tunnels is extremely dangerous, Purushothaman said. Although the building of a tunnel starts only on the basis of the general understanding of the geography of the place and studies done on it, one should expect danger at every step of the construction.

The job involves ripping open the earth. As such, no matter how many safety precautions are taken, natural disasters can never be ruled out and they can come in many forms, which could result in even loss of life, he said. There were many hurdles we faced — from landslides and mudslides to rocks flying around after explosions. This complex mission was completed by overcoming all such obstructions, he said.

According to Purushothaman, this is not the achievement of just one person. "It is the success of great cooperation and dedication," he said. The tunnel connects Manali in Himachal Pradesh with Lahaul-Spiti. It will also offer connections to Ladakh and Leh under any weather conditions.

Landslides, mudslides, rock eruptions and many other problems have been avoided many times. Eventually, the Atal Tunnel overcame everything and made India proud.

The construction of the tunnel, which started in 2010, was planned to be completed within six years, but the crisis was realized one by one when construction began.