Plans afoot to develop ski slopes on Rohtang tunnel’s north portal
Plans are in the pipeline for developing ski slopes in Tiling Village in Lahaul, to boost tourism in the Himalayan valley. The Himachal government will soon seek the Centre’s approval for developing the ski slopes, CM Jai Ram Thakur told officials on Saturday.
Tilling village, which has a population of 35 people (17 men and 18 women) according to the 2011 population census, is situated merely 2km away from the north portal of the Rohtang tunnel. The opening of the Rohtang tunnel, which connects Manali and Leh, will give impetus to tourism in the two remote valleys of Lahaul and Spiti.
Lahaul-Spiti, which is spread over a sprawling 13,833 sq km, is a popular tourist destinations . The valleys are popular for their Buddhist monasteries, temples, and adventure tourism. The government plans to install a 550m lift in the area. There are also proposals of setting up three lifts in the village. Each lift will carry at least 60 people per hour. The estimated cost of the ski project is pegged at ₹18 crore . The Himachal government had earlier decided to ply vista dome buses inside the tunnel.
The 8.8-km strategic Rohtang Tunnel, being built at 3,000 metres above sea level, will be opened for traffic by September-end. The ₹32,000-crore tunnel will shorten the 474-km distance between Manali and Leh by 46km, which means the eight-hour journey will be cut by two-and-a-half hours.
The tunnel is also called Atal Tunnel, as the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the project on June 3, 2000. The work was entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). After this announcement, there was a lull with the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi laying the foundation stone of the project on June 28, 2010.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to dedicate the tunnel. On Saturday, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who was accompanied by tribal affairs minister Ram Lal Markanda visited the tunnel to inspect the progress. Thakur said not only was the tunnel strategically important but will also boost tourism in the region .
He said the Atal Tunnel will be a boon for residents of Lahaul and Spiti Valley who remain cut off from the rest of the country in winters for nearly six months due to heavy snowfall. The tunnel will provide almost all-weather connectivity to troops stationed in Ladakh, he added. Jai Ram Thakur said that for full all-weather connectivity up to Leh-Ladakh, additional tunnels would have to be built on the Manali-Leh route.
The CM said snow galleries had also been built on the approach road to the tunnel from Manali side, and this will ensure all-weather connectivity. He said bridges on the approach road to both portals of the tunnel have also been completed