SHIMLA, AUGUST 29,2020: Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur Saturday visited the Atal Tunnel Rohtang and reviewed the progress work of the tunnel with the officers of the Border Road Organisation (BRO) and directed the BRO officials to expedite the completion of the tunnel so that it could be made ready for inauguration by the prime minister Narendra Modi by the end of September.
He said that ambitious Atal Tunnel would provide all-weather connectivity to Leh and forward areas of Ladakh, which remain cut off for nearly six months from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall on the passes en route. This is extremely significant from the military logistics point of view, he added.
He also stated that Prime Minister was showing keen interest in early completion of this mega project, which would be not only important from a strategic point of view, but would also give a boost to tourism activities in Lahaul-Spiti district of the State besides creating employment and self-employment avenues in the area.
Thakur said that this project would be completed by spending an amount of Rs 3500 crore. It has reduced the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometers. He said that the Atal Tunnel would be a boon to the 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 the troops stationed in Ladakh, he added.
He also revealed that for full all-weather connectivity up to Leh-Ladakh, additional tunnels would have to be built on the Manali-Leh route so that the high passes did not impede movement due to heavy snowfall. He said that a 13.2 km long tunnel would have to be built to negotiate the 16,040 feet high Baralacha pass and another 14.78 km long tunnel would be required at the Lachung La pass at 16,800 feet and third 7.32 km long tunnel would be required at Tanglang La pass at 17,480 feet.
Chief Minister said that snow galleries have also been built at the approach road to the tunnel from Manali side, and this would ensure all-weather connectivity. He said that bridges on the approach road to the tunnel from the north portal (on Lahaul Spiti side) and the south portals have also been completed.
It would be pertinent to mention here that the originally designed as an 8.8-km long tunnel, the fresh GPS readings are taken by the BRO after the work on it was completed, showed that it was 9 km in length. The tunnel would be the world’s longest on an altitude of 3,000 meters and will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometers.
Chief Engineer BRO Brig. K.P. Purshothaman, VSM assured the Chief Minister that the project would be completed in a stipulated time period. He said that the tunnel also provides a telephone facility on every 150 meters, fire hydrant on every 60 meters, emergency exit on every 500 meters, turning cavern on every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring on every one km, broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras on every 250 meters.