Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur today visited the Atal Tunnel Rohtang and reviewed the progress work of the tunnel with the officers of the Border Road Organisation (BRO).Later, while presiding over a meeting with the senior officers of Border Road Organization at Headquarter (Project) Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, Chief Minister directed the BRO officials to expeditiously give final touch to the tunnel, so that the same could be made ready for inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the end of September this year. 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 enroute. This is extremely significant from the military logistics point of view, he added.Jai Ram Thakur said that Prime Minister was showing keen interest in early completion of this mega project, which would be not only important from strategic point of view, but would also give boost to tourism activities in Lahaul-Spiti district of the State besides creating employment and self employment avenues in the area.Chief Minister said that this project would be completed by spending an amount of Rs 3500 crore. He said that cutting through the Pir Panjal range, the tunnel has reduced the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km. 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.
Jai Ram Thakur said that for full all-weather connectivity upto Leh-Ladakh, additional tunnels would have to be built on the Manali-Leh route so that the high passes do 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. Jai Ram Thakur said that the tunnel have several user friendly features which include an emergency escape tunnel, which has been built under the main tunnel. This would provide an emergency exit in case of any untoward incident, which may render the main tunnel unusable, he added.It would be pertinent to mention here that the originally designed as a 8.8-km long tunnel, the fresh GPS readings 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 metres and will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometres. Chief Engineer BRO Brig. K.P. Purshothaman, VSM assured the Chief Minister that the project would be completed in stipulated time period. He said that the tunnel also provides a telephone facility on every 150 metres, fire hydrant on every 60 metres, emergency exit on every 500 metres, 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 metres.Tribal Development Minister Dr Ram Lal Markanda, Education Minister Govind Thakur, MP Ram Swaroop Sharma, MLA Banjar Surender Shourie, Chief Secretary Anil Khachi, Secretary GAD Devesh, ADGP Venugopal, Deputy Commissioner Kullu Dr. Richa Verma and other Officers of BRO attended in the meeting.