All weather strategic Rohtang tunnel may miss 2015 deadline


By : Mohan Verma

One of ambitious project launched by UPA rule to built all weather strategic Rohtang tunnel to link this tourist resort Manali with Keylong and to further reduce the distance to bordering Leh and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to delay, as it was about to commission in February 2015.

National Commission for scheduled tribes vice chairperson Ravi Thakur, who inspected the construction work on March 7, told that project execution is going on at a slow pace.

Mr. Thakur who is local legislator of Lahaul & Spiti disclosed that the reason for the delay being cited by the officials concerned is inclement weather and heavy snowfall in winters.

“However, this kind of weather was prevalent in the area when the work was awarded and this would have been taken into account while the target date was fixed,” he pointed out.

Due to delay in the commissioning of the project, cost is likely to be escalate , which would be Rs.500-600 crore more than its project estimate of Rs.1,495 crore.

Official sources said that Rs. 830 crore has been spent and now its likely to cost more than Rs.2,000 crore.

Mr. Thakur said that so far 4,100 metres have been dug up out of the 8.8 km long horseshoe shaped tunnel, being built under the 13,050 feet high Rohtang Pass also called gateway to Lahaul & Spiti in Himachal.

Work on the north portal that lies towards the Lahaul valley towards Dhundi has been stopped since December because of massive snowfall in the area.

Currently BRO could not continue the construction at North portal as Rohtang pass was covered by 15 to 20 feet thick snowfall, closed for traffic after December 2013 onwards remained inaccessible as mercury plunged to around minus 20 degrees Celsius.

UPA chairpersons Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone of this tunnel on June 28, 2010, at Solang nallah near Manali at the south portal.

The cabinet committee on security cleared this project in September 2009.

The tunnel would open the Lahaul valley with rest of the world and would bring more than 20,000 people with mainstream of life, which currently remains cut off from rest of the nation from November to May every year during the winters with annual event of closing of Rohtang Pass after heavy snowfall.

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