Sonia to lay Rohtang Tunnel Foundation Stone

Shimla: Congress president Sonia Gandhi by month end is to lay the foundation stone of the strategically important Rohtang Tunnel project that not only proposes to connect Lahaul Spiti with Kullu valley but also targets to provide year around access to Ladkhak and Kargil for safeguarding the nations’ security.

Virbhadra Singh, union steel minister in a communiqué stated that “The stone of the Rohtang tunnel (near Manali) would be laid by UPA (United Progressive Alliance) chairperson Sonia Gandhi June 28.”

Besides the congress president, defense minister AK Anthony and chief ministers Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Omar Abdullah and Prem Kumar Dhumal would also be present on the occasion, Singh who is on a weeklong visit to the state said.

The 8.80-kilometres long horseshoe shaped tunnel, under the Rohtang Pass will provide all-weather connectivity to Lahaul valley from Kullu. During winters months, the 13,050 high Rohtang Pass gets snow bound and cuts of Lahaul valley for more than 4 months each year.

“The cabinet committee has approved Rs.1,495 crore for the project,” Singh said. Central cabinet committee on security in September 2009 had approved Afcons Infrastructure, in collaboration with European firm Strabag, as the building contractor for the tunnel.

The tunnel, some 300 km from Shimla, will reduce the distance by road between Manali and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir by 40 km.

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