Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh. The 9.02 km long Atal Tunnel, which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours, is the longest highway tunnel in the world (above 10,000 feet).
The tunnel will connect Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year, the PMO said, noting that the valley was earlier cut off for about six months every year due to heavy snowfall.
Here are the HIGHLIGHTS of PM Modi's speech at inauguration of Atal Tunnel:
- It is a historic day today. Not only has Atal ji's (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) dream come true, but also all the residents of Himachal Pradesh.
- As Rajnath ji (Rajnath Singh) said, when Atal ji used to visit Manali and was planning this tunnel, I was here too. We used to sit with him and understand his vision.
- Often it is the case, that in the glamour of a glorious moment like this, those who have actually worked night and day, sweat it out, get missed out. I want to take this opportunity to thank them first. Without them, this day would not be possible.
- This tunnel is not only important to Himachal, but also because it facilitates a connection to Ladakh.
- People who live in the mountains would know the significance of cutting down travel time by 4-5 hours.
- The Atal tunnel also strengthens India's border areas with year-round seemless connectivity. It not just betters infrastructure, but also helps our armed forces.
- Like several other infrastructure projects, the Atal tunnel too faced neglect after Vajpayee ji's term came to an end. In several years, only 1,300 meters was completed.
- If this is how it was to be, this project would take another 20 years from today to be completed.
- But in the last six years, our focus was to give this a priority, and I am happy to say that 26 years' worth of work has been completed in just 6 years.
- Not just the Atal tunnel, there was neglect on other strategic projects. One being the Daulat Beig Oldi air strip in Ladakh. This is a project of utmost national importance. What were the compulsions that led to this neglect?
- Similarly, in the northeast, the Bogibeel bridge, which gives strategic connect to Arunachal Pradesh. That too faced neglect.
- We are working to ensure that there is seemless connectivity in terms of border areas connectivity.