Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday the Atal Tunnel has not only realised Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s dream but has also ended the decades-long wait of the people of Himachal Pradesh. The Prime Minister made the comments after he inaugurated the 9.02km long Atal Tunnel, which will connect Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley in the state.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh, chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat, chief minister Jairam Thakur, Union minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Singh Thakur and the Border Road Organisation’s director general Lt Gen Harpal Singh at the inauguration ceremony.
The tunnel, which the Prime Minister said will also become the lifeline for Leh-Ladakh, will remain open throughout the year as opposed to the valley being cut off for about six months every year amid heavy snowfall.
The strategically important tunnel will also strengthen the country’s border infrastructure, Modi emphasised.
Hailing the Make in India move, Modi said big reforms have been introduced to ensure modern weapons are produced in the country.
After a long wait, the chief of defence staff is now part of our system. According to the requirements of the Indian Army, better coordination has been established in both procurement and production, the Modi added.
The Prime Minister also informed that work on another bridge Kosi Mahasetu, the foundation of which was laid by Vajpayee in Bihar, has been expedited since 2014 as the Modi government came into power.
Atal Tunnel, named after former prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee, reduces the road distance by 46km between Manali and Leh and the travel time by about four to five hours. The tunnel has been built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres from the mean sea level.
The single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 metres and an overhead clearance of 5.525 metres is horse-shoe shaped and has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars per day and 1,500 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Jairam Thakur said on Friday that around 200 people were expected to attend the event in Manali. The PMO said Modi will participate in public functions at Sissu in Lahaul Spiti and at Solang Valley after attending the inauguration function at South Portal, Manali.
Rajnath Singh had on Friday inspected the Atal Tunnel along with chief minister Thakur and Thakur.
By Hindustan Times