PM likely to open Atal Tunnel at Himachal’s Rohtang Pass on October 3
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL 9.2-km tunnel will bring down distance between Manali and Leh by 46km, will facilitate movement of troops to Indo-China border besides providing all-weather connectivity to tribal Lahaul-Spiti districtUpdated: Sep 21, 2020, 14:06 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate Atal Tunnel under the 3,978-metre-high Rohtang Pass on the Leh-Manali highway in Himachal Pradesh on October 3.
Stating this while interacting with mediapersons in Shimla on Monday, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said Modi will tentatively come to Manali on October 3 for inaugurating the tunnel and will also visit Lahaul-Spiti.
He said that a decision on a public rally on the occasion is yet to be taken.
State technical education minister Ram Lal Markanda said that Modi may address the public after the inaugurating the tunnel at Sissu or Keylong in Lahaul. He said that the Prime Minister would flag off a bus through the tunnel.
“The government will honour elderly residents of Lahaul by making them the first passengers to cross this tunnel by bus,” he said.
Markanda said that the tunnel will open new opportunities by giving a fillip to tourism and the economy of the tribal district.
The Rohtang tunnel has been named after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had announced the project on June 3, 2000. The work to build it was entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The project faced several geological challenges that pushed the deadline since digging started in 2011. The project was to be completed in February 2015, but water ingress from Seri Nullah, ban on rock mining and the delay in land allotment for quarrying, and loose rock strata in the middle, delayed progress.
The 9.2-km tunnel is the world’s longest above an altitude of 3,000 metres.
It will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and bring down travel time by 4.5 hours that will help expedite movement of troops to the border areas in Ladakh.
It is a 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fire proof emergency escape tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.