Shimla: The soon to be ready Rohtang tunnel, which links the Lahaul valley with the rest of the world, should be named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet agreed at a meeting on Tuesday and decided to forward a request to the Centre in this regard.
The state cabinet headed by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur also decided to erect a statue of the charismatic former prime minister in Shimla's Mall road or the Ridge as well as a memorial in Manali.
Remembering the special attachment of Vajpayee with the people of Himachal Pradesh, the Cabinet passed a resolution that noted that the idea to construct the Rohtang tunnel connecting landlocked hinterland of the Lahaul valley with rest of the world was in 1998 by Vajpayee.
The project was announced by him on June 3, 2000, it said. This project is nearing completion and would be the biggest gift of Vajpayee to the state, it said.
The cabinet also decided to erect Vajpayee's statue at the Ridge or Mall in Shimla and to construct a memorial at Manali. The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and late prime minister Indira Gandhi exist at the Ridge in Shimla.
The cabinet also decided to re-name the 'Mukhya Mantri Adarsh Vidya Kendra Scheme' launched by the state government as 'Atal Adarsh Vidya Kendra' and 'Mukhya Mantri Aashirwad Scheme' as 'Atal Aashirwad scheme'.
The state cabinet also decided to send a proposal to the union government to rename the Kol Dam project after Vajpayee. The cabinet also observed a two minute silence as a mark of respect to Vajpayee who passed away on August 16 after prolonged illness. He was 93.Expressing grief at his sad demise, the state cabinet lauded Vajpayee's contributions for the nation in general and for the state in particular.
Describing Vajpayee as a multi-faceted personality, the resolution said that apart from being a statesman, he was an outstanding orator, poet and a passionate journalist. The cabinet in its resolution said that Vajpayee considered Himachal Pradesh as his second home and had a house at Prini in Kullu district. He loved to visit the state whenever he had time.
The resolution said it was the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Vajpayee that a special package for industrial development was announced for Himachal in 2003 as result of which investment of thousands of crores of rupees flowed in and employment for lakhs of youth was ensured.
The state cabinet said that it was the sheer grit of Vajpayee to go ahead with Pokhran nuclear tests making India a nuclear power. In addition, one of the largest education programmes 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan' was launched during his prime ministership.
The cabinet in its resolution said it was during the tenure of Vajpayee that the Golden Quadrilateral National Highway Project came into being. In addition, 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna' (PMGSY) aimed at linking five lakh villages to cities by all weather roads proved a boon to the hilly states like Himachal Pradesh.
The Cabinet also remembered with reverence the foundation stones of Kol Dam and Parvati Hydro Electric Projects in the state besides Mohan Shakti National Heritage Park at Harth near Solan which were laid by Vajpayee.