As Atal tunnel, Rohtang, the longest tunnel in the world above altitude of 3,000m, is expected to be a major tourist attraction of Himachal, the chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said this tunnel will start a concept of “tunnel tourism” for the first time in the country.
The infrastructure is being developed at both portals of the tunnel where tourism activities will be available for the tourists. The government is further planning to start different tourism activities here to attract more tourists. Government has also planned to run glass top vistadome buses on this route especially for the tourists.
“Atal tunnel will open door to tunnel tourism which will be a new concept of tourism in the country. Both the portals of the tunnel will be developed on tourism point of view. People will come to see this engineering marvel at this altitude. Also, the approach road to the tunnel is full of scenery that offers view of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, towering peaks and glacial-fed rivers. The tunnel will also open doors to flourishing tourism in the Lahaul valley,” the CM said.
He said that originally the tunnel was designed 8.8km in length but the resh GPS readings after completion of the work showed that it was 9.02km-long. “This tunnel will be credited as world’s longest motorable tunnel at altitude of 3,000m. This tunnel is also a result of friendship of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Tashi Dawa, a resident of Tholang village of Lahaul. As both wanted to find an alternate to lengthy and dangerous travel across Rohtang pass, the idea of the tunnel was conceived long back. Finally, work on approach road begun in 2002 and work on tunnel began in 2010,” he added.
Expedite work to give final touch to Atal tunnel for inauguration by PM in Sept: CM to BRO
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Saturday visited the Atal tunnel, Rohtang and directed officials of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to expedite work to give final touch to the tunnel so that PM Narendra Modi could inaugurate it by end of September.
The CM was here to take stock of arrangements for visit of PM Modi. He first visited the Sissu helipad in Lahaul which has been renovated for the PM’s visit. He then visited the tunnel and its both portals. While earlier it was said that all the works in tunnel will complete by August 31, the CM said that the final touch to the tunnel will be given by September 15 or maximum by September 20.
“I’ve directed BRO officials to complete the work by mid-September so that the tunnel is ready for inauguration by the PM by end of September. The final date for inauguration will be finalised by the PMO. Not just Himachal but the entire nation is eagerly waiting for its inauguration. The tunnel is extremely significant from the military logistics point of view,” he said.
Besides final finishing work, BRO is engaged in decoration of both the portals of the tunnel. The CM said this tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to the Lahaul valley but some more tunnels would have to be built to make Manali-Leh highway fully all-weather.
“I was told by BRO officials that a 13.2km-long tunnel is proposed to be built below 16,040ft high Baralacha pass, 14.78km-long tunnel below 16,800ft high Lachulung-la pass and 7.32km-long tunnel is proposed to be built below 17,480ft high Taglangla pass. Heavy snowfall on these passes blocks the highway in winter months. The tunnels will ensure all-weather connectivity,” he said.
The CM said that PM Modi was showing keen interest in early completion of this mega project which will boost tourism in Lahaul-Spiti district besides creating employment and self-employment avenues. As Modi can land at Sissu helipad in Lahaul or Bahang helipad near Manali, the officials are ready with both the helipads. The roads from both the helipads to the tunnel have been renovated. New milestones and signage displaying direction to Atal tunnel, Rohtang and distance of various locations from the tunnel have been put up.
The tunnel project will be completed by spending an amount of Rs 3,500cr. The tunnel will reduce distance between Manali and Leh by 46km.