December 2019 News

Tunnel Will Change Fortunes, Boost Tourism In HP, Ladakh

25 December 2019
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that Rohtang tunnel, now rechristened as Atal Tunnel, will change fortunes of the region (including Manali and Ladakh) as it will provide all weather connectivity to remote areas, promote tourism and reduce distance. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, meanwhile, announced that the tunnel will be completed in 2020 at the cost of Rs 4000 crore. The Prime Minister was speaking at an event held to name the underground motor passage after former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart late Atal Behari Vajpayee in the Union capital. The tunnel is being considered as strategic as it will provide connectivity to Ladakh which generally remains cut off by road from Kashmir for four to five months during winter due to heavy snowfall which blocks Srinagar-Leh National Highway near Zojila and other places. The Central Government has mooted construction of tunnel at Zojila but work on it hasn't started yet. Ladakh, which has been decla-red as Union Territory by the Central Government after bifurcation of the region from Jammu and Kashmir, is considered very strategic zone in view of un-demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern Ladakh. Movement of troops as well as civilians gets badly affected during winter months to Ladakh due to closure of Srinagar-Leh National Highway and air services are left as only mode of transportation, which is considered as very costly affair. In a series of tweets after the event, Modi said: 'Today the name of a big project that is very important for the country has been dedicated to Atal Ji. Rohtang Tunnel, connecting Himachal Pradesh with Ladakh and Jammu Kashmir, connecting Manali with Leh, will now be known as Atal Tunnel'. The 'strategic' tunnel will change the fortunes of the region and help promote tourism, Modi said. 'The project is very important for the country. Rohtang Tunnel, connecting Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh, will now be known as Atal Tunnel. This strategic tunnel will change the fortunes of this region. It will help in promoting tourism in the region,' he said. The historic decision to build the tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken in 2000 when Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The 8.8-km-long tunnel will be the world's longest above an altitude of 3,000 meters and will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometers, according to the Defence Ministry. Once thrown open, the tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh which otherwise remain cut off from the rest of the country for about six months during winters. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the Government has fulfilled a long-pending demand to name the tunnel after the former Prime Minister. The tunnel is being constructed by the Border Roads Organization (BRO), which falls under purview of the Defence Ministry. Singh said the construction of the Rs 4,000-crore tunnel will be completed by 2020. 'Completion of the tunnel will provide all weather connectivity to remote areas of Lahaul & Spiti Valley and also reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometers,' he added. 'The Government under the leadership of PM Shri @narendramodi has fulfilled a long pending demand to name the tunnel under Rohtang Pass after Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji as a tribute to the former Prime Minister who took the historic decision of constructing this strategic tunnel,' Rajnath tweeted. The decision to name the tunnel after Vajpayee was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. A Defence Ministry official said the BRO, which is constructing the tunnel, overcame major challenges due to difficult terrain and weather in laying the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre in the Seri Nalah Fault Zone.