New Delhi: The government on Wednesday named the strategic tunnel under Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a tribute to him on his 95th birth anniversary.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government has fulfilled a long-pending demand to name the tunnel after the former prime minister. Singh said the construction of the Rs 4,000-crore tunnel will be completed by 2020.
The historic decision to construct the strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken in 2000 when Vajpayee was the prime minister.
"The government under the leadership of PM Shri @narendramodi has fulfilled a long pending demand to name the tunnel under Rohtang Pass after Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji as a tribute to the former Prime Minister who took the historic decision of constructing this strategic tunnel," Singh tweeted.
The decision to name the tunnel after Vajpayee was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. The 8.8-km-long tunnel will be the world's longest above an altitude of 3,000 metres and will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometres, according to the defence ministry.
Once thrown open, the tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh which otherwise remain cut off from the rest of the country for about six months during winters.
"The completion of the tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to remote areas of Lahaul and Spiti Valley and also reduce the distance between Manali & Leh by 46 KM," the defence minister said. The project is being implemented by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
A defence ministry official said the BRO overcame major challenges due to difficult terrain and weather in laying the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre in the Seri Nalah Fault Zone.