Prime Minister Narendra Modi will, on Saturday inaugurate the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh. Construction was recently completed, after nearly a decade of work. The project was conceived in 1983 and in June 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced it. However, it was only in June 2010 that work on the tunnel actually began, after being shelved repeatedly.
"Fulfilling Atal Ji’s dream of top quality infrastructure. Will be in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow to dedicate the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang to the nation. This is an iconic infrastructure project built at a height of 10,000 feet," the Prime Minister tweeted a few hours earlier.
The 9.02 km long tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in the world connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier, the valley was cut off for about six months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 kilometres between Manali and Leh and the time by about four to five hours. The tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
Following the inauguration, Modi will also address a public gathering in Sissu in Lahaul valley.