Manali: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated Atal Tunnel Rohtang, the longest highway tunnel in the world built at an altitude of 3,000 meters.
The Prime Minister arrived at Manali on early today morning to inaugurate the Atal Tunnel.
PM Modi, while addressing the gathering at South Portal of the Atal Tunnel, appreciated the hard work done by the Border Roads Organisation. He said that the Tunnel would open new vistas of development in the landlocked hinterland of Lahaul-Spiti and even beyond that in Leh and Ladakh as well. He said that the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.
Prime Minister also went around the picture gallery on the ‘Making of Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’.
Prime Minister also visited the exhibition of State Government related to the Tourism Infrastructure on South Portal towards Manali. He was also briefed on High Altitude Tourism Infrastructure on North Portal.
Prime Minister also flagged-off bus from South Portal in Lahaul Spiti valley to Manali on the occasion.
The Atal Tunnel Rohtang is longest motorable tunnel at a height of over 3,000 metres. It will reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by 46 km. Besides fecilitating the local peoples and tourists, Tunnel will also ensure all-weather movement of armed forces and infantry combat vehicles to the Line of Actual Control.
Modi was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Tunnel was very important from strategic point of view and would ensure better connectivity to the border areas. He said that Atal tunnel was the first step towards all-year connectivity to Ladakh. He said that the Tunnel provides a strategic advantage to the Armed Forces of the country by providing yearlong connectivity to border areas.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that with the dedication of the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang the vision of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been fulfilled. He said that opening of the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang would give a fresh impetus to tourism, agriculture and horticulture activities in Lahaul valley, as till now, tourist season here currently lasted only a few months. He said that with opening of this Tunnel, now beautiful Lahaul Valley would become a favourite tourist destination as it would have easier access from Manali.
Anurag Thakur termed the inauguration of tunnel as historic. He said that tunnel will help to boost the tourism activities in the region and will connect the Lahaul region with the rest of country throughout the year.