More than 700 men are working in shifts to complete the work of the tunnel. (Source: Twitter @ANI)
The Rohtang Tunnel, also known as the Atal Tunnel after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, built at 3,000 metre above the sea level between Himachal Pradesh's Manali and Leh in Ladakh will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in his 74th Independence Day speech in Kullu said, “Rohtang tunnel was Vajpayee’s vision and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate it to the nation in September.”
The Rs 3,200 crore project was announced by Atal Bihari Vajpayee on June 3, 2000, and was given to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The 8.8-km-long tunnel will shorten the distance of 474 km between Manali and Leh by 46 km, reducing the journey by two and half hours.
The tunnel has the capacity to ply 3,000 vehicles per day, at the speed of up to 80 km per hour, under any weather condition.
The tunnel will also provide a road link to Lahaul and Spiti in the winters. It will also accelerate troop mobility to strategic frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir.
Himachal Pradesh will run Vistadome buses inside the tunnel. These buses will have a glass rooftop for a panoramic view of the hilly region.
The original cost of the project was Rs 1,700 crore in 2010, but it almost doubled to Rs 3,200 crore by September 2020.
As reported by Hindustan Times, the project, which was to be completed in February 2015 faced many geological challenges which pushed the deadline as digging started in 2011.
The project faced many major challenges like water ingress from Seri Nullah, ban on rock mining, delay in allotment of land needed for quarrying, and loose rock strata.
More than 700 men are working in shifts to complete the work of the tunnel. When the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed, proactive measures were taken and the project was started again with the state government's coordination.