Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Sonia Gandhi lays foundation stone for 8.8 km-long Rohtang Tunnel

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sonia Gandhi lays foundation stone for 8.8 km-long Rohtang Tunnel

 By Sitanshu Kar & T.K. Singha
The foundation stone for the strategic 8.8 km long Rohtang Tunnel, to be built at an altitude of over 3,000 mts in the Pir Panjal range, enabling an all-weather road link across the snow-capped Rohtang Pass (3,978 mts), was laid by the Chairperson of National Advisory Council, Smt Sonia Gandhi, in Manali today. The tunnel will provide unhindered road access to the remote regions of Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi Valley throughout the year, besides reducing the road distance by nearly 48 Kms, a travel time of about four hours.
A brief multi-faith ceremony was held at the South Portal, 15 Kms from Manali, where the drilling work on the tunnel commenced today.  Smt Gandhi was accompanied by Union Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony, Union Steel Minister, Shri Vir Bhadra Singh, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal, MoS for Defence, Dr MM Pallam Raju, Defence Secretary, Pradeep Kumar, DG Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Lt Gen MC Badhani and other officials from the State and Ministry of Defence.
Addressing a public rally near Manali, Smt Gandhi reminisced that the project was the dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and expressed satisfaction that it was finally on its way to being realised. The tunnel at an outlay of 1,495 Cr is expected to be completed by BRO in Feb 2015. The horse-shoe shaped tunnel will be a two-way lane in a single tube, 11.25 mts wide. The tunnel will give a boost to tourism in the region, facilitate better access for medical treatment and provide more avenues of employment to the youth, she said.
Simultaneously, drilling work also commenced at the northern portal (exit point), joining the Manali-Sarchu road, over Chandra river. One of the unique features of the tunnel being constructed at the rarefied altitudes includes incorporation of semi-transverse ventilation system, where large fans would separately circulate air, in and out throughout the tunnel length and thus reduce vehicular fumes.
In his brief introductory remarks , DG BRO, Lt Gen Badhani spoke about the challenges that the workforce will endure. Terming it as an extremely prestigious project, coming in its Golden Jubilee year, he assured that BRO will leave no stone unturned for timely completion of the project. The tunnel will not only serve the purpose of the people in the region but will also prove vital for troops of the Armed Forces serving in the Leh-Ladakh region, all-year round.
The tunnel is being constructed under the aegis of BRO by M/S STRABAG-AFCONS, a joint venture between India’s Afcons Infrastructure Ltd and Strabag SE of Austria, world’s fourth largest construction company. The work is expected to take 63 months for completion.
The Rohtang tunnel alone may not be enough to make the Manali-Keylong-Leh highway an all-weather road due to two other major snow-bound passes on way – Baralacha La and Thaglang La. To overcome this, the project also envisages construction of 292 Kms long all-weather road, Nimu-Padam-Darcha via Shinkunla Pass, traversing the remote Zanskar region of J&K, at an additional estimated cost of Rs 286 Cr.
Project Rohtang is the 18th project of the BRO countrywide. BRO is a premiere infrastructure creation and consolidation organisation under MoD and has constructed more than 48,300 Kms of road, 400 major bridges measuring a total of 36 Kms including 19 airfields mostly across difficult terrain and inhospitable climates.

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