Millennium Post

Rohtang tunnel will be a boon for Himachal: Jai Ram Thakur

Shimla: Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, on Friday, said that the upcoming Rohtang Tunnel, renamed as 'Atal Tunnel' in memory of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will provide greater connectivity to the snow-bound Lahaul valley and tribal areas.

Nevertheless, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to continue regular flight operations during winter for medical emergencies and meeting the development needs of the area, he said.

At a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC), the Chief Minister admitted that helicopter service, which is operated with the help of the Central is a life-saving effort to airlift medical patients requiring immediate specialised medical care at Shimla and Kullu. Earlier to this, thousands of tourists trapped due to heavy snowfall in 2018 were also airlifted.

This week too a critical patient was airlifted from Spiti for providing medical care at Shimla. Sometime, the locals carry patients and have to walk 7-8 km through four to five feet snow to the nearest helipad or the nearest point for ambulance service.

He said that the government had also taken up the matter with the Centre for providing subsidy on helicopter services for tribal areas and a Rs 4 crore subsidy was received by the state government.

Thakur said, "At the behest of the government the Union Tribal ministry has provided an assistance of Rs 70 crore for developmental activities in

the tribal areas. Under the Border Area Development Programme the state government has succeeded to get an additional amount of Rs. 10 crore during the year 2017-18 and Rs 8.45 crore during the year 2018-19"

The Chief Minister added, "Atal Tunnel would be dedicated soon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to facilitate the people of Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi area."

He also said that the tunnel is of great strategic importance, besides it will be the biggest tourists attraction, apart from helping the tribals to boost economic activity.

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