PM Modi to Address 2 Public Meetings in Himachal After Opening Atal Tunnel Rohtang on Oct 3
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two public meetings in Himachal Pradesh after opening the strategic Atal Tunnel Rohtang on October 3, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said Monday, asserting all COVID-19 protocols will be followed during the function. The CM said that Modi, accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, would inaugurate the tunnel — the world's longest at a high altitude of 10,000 feet — on the Manali-Leh National Highway during his over five-hour stay in the hill state.
The timing of opening of the strategically important Atal Tunnel is very significant in view of the ongoing tension in Ladakh on the Sino-Indian border, he added. For the inauguration on October 3, the PM is scheduled to arrive at the Center for Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) helipad by a chopper in Manali in Kullu district at 9.15 am. He will halt at a Border Roads Organisation guesthouse for 10 minutes and will interact with officials of the BRO.
Modi will formally inaugurate the 9.2-km Atal Tunnel, built at an altitude of about 10,000 feet above the sea level, at its South Portal (entrance) at Manali between 10 am and 11.45 am, Thakur added. Thereafter, he will travel through the tunnel to reach its north portal in Lahaul valley of Lahaul-Spiti district and flag off a Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus for the south portal in Manali, the CM added.
After that, the prime minister will address a public meeting of 200 people in Sisu of Lahaul valley, he added. The PM will then return to south portal and address another public meeting of 200 people in Solan Nullah in Manali, he added.
The PM will depart from the same SASE helipad at 2.20 pm, Thakur added. The tunnel, built at a cost of about Rs 3,300 crore, is extremely significant from the defence point of view as it will not only shorten the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km, it will also benefit the residents of Lahaul-Spiti, especially during winter, the CM added. The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul-Spiti and the neighbouring Leh-Ladakh which otherwise remain cut-off from the rest of the country for about six months due to heavy winter snowfalls, he added.
The BRO worked relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah Fault zone. The breakthrough from both the ends was achieved on October 15, 2017. Meanwhile, a BRO official said the tunnel provides a telephone facility at every 150 metre of its stretch, a fire hydrant every 60 metre, emergency exits every 500 metre, turning cavern every 2.2 km, air quality monitors every 1 km, broadcasting system and automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 metre.
It is a 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fire proof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself. The decision to construct the strategic tunnel below the Rohtang pass was taken on in 2000 when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister, the official added. The CM said the late Vajpayee had got the idea for constructing the tunnel on a suggestion from his friend Arjun Gopal of Tashi Dobhe village in Lahaul.
The foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002. The Union government on December 25 last year named the tunnel after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a tribute to him on his 95th birth anniversary.
Thakur had visited Rohtang on August 29 to review the progress on the Atal Tunnel.