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We want PM to visit us for Rohtang Tunnel: Himachal Pradesh CM

We want PM to visit us for Rohtang Tunnel: Himachal Pradesh CM

Shimla: With barely a few days left for a long cherished dream of Lahaul-Spiti –a landlocked tribal district getting fulfilled, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur says he wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Himachal Pradesh for the inaugural ceremony of Atal Rohtang Tunnel.

The 9.9 km long, world's longest tunnel at a height of 10,000 feet, cleared by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000, will provide an all-weather connectivity to Lahaul-Spiti, a valley which remains cut off for six months, after closure of the Rohtang Tunnel.

The tunnel will shorten a distance of 46 km from Manali to Keylong, which is the district headquarter.

And what's an added importance of the tunnel for the country is all about it providing an alternate route to the Indian army for all movements to Leh–and areas close to the Ladakh borders with the highly volatile China border.

Himachal Pradesh admits that the tunnel's strategic importance can't be underestimated especially when China had built up infrastructure on its side and had been frequently resorting to violent conflicts with Indian forces.

The foundation stone for the tunnel was laid by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in June 2010 when it was expected to be completed by 2015.

The delay in the execution of the tunnel, which now has become one of the finest engineering marvel, was caused by several challenging, which also included detection of a high volume water channel –Seri Nullah following through the tunnel. It took almost two years to find a solution to the problem and move ahead with the excavation work.

Brigadier K P Purushothaman, Project Chief Engineer, says "Beside Seri nullah, we had other geographical and engineering challenges. Heavy snowfall during the winters and hazards relating to avalanches, cloud bursts and recent Covid-19 also posed a challenge.

But now, it's heartening to see the project in its complete shape .

" We are just waiting for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey when he proposes to arrive and inaugurate the tunnel, which as I see will change the whole economic profile of people of Lahaul-Spiti. They had spent really tough days as having remained in isolation during the winters after closure of the Rohtang Pass," Brigadier Purushothaman said.

Apart from changing the economy of the area, Lahaul Spiti –which provides connectivity to Leh region, will get a boost to its tourism potential.

Some of the innovative features added to the tunnel include a footpath of one meter on either side, automatic lightening, speed control and accident detection system, semi-transverse ventilation with fans to circulate air and an emergency rescue tunnel below the main traffic tunnel.

The tunnel is designed to sustain vehicles at a speed of 80km/hour.

The Atal Rohtang Tunnel has been built at a cost of Rs 3,800 crore.

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