Manali-Leh road link may be used round-the-yearJune 26th, 2010 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, June 26 (IANS) The proposed Rohtang Tunnel is a key element in the defence ministry’s attempts to make the 475-km-long Manali-Keylong-Leh highway, used by the armed forces to reach forward areas in Ladakh bordering China and Pakistan, motorable round-the-year.
The multi-crore rupee project, will begin with the laying of the foundation stone of the Rohtang Tunnel, under the Rohtang Pass, by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the picturesque Solang Valley near Manali town in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district Monday.
Spread over rugged, cold and inhospitable Himalayan terrain in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the highway project will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by approximately 48 km and will save about four hours of travel time. It will cost over Rs.1,700 crore, including the Rs.1,495 crore for the Rohtang Tunnel alone.
The road currently remains shut for more than six months owing to heavy snowfall at the passes that fall on the highway, including Rohtang (13,050 feet), Baralacha (16,020 feet), Lachlungla (16,620 feet) and Tanglangla (17,480 feet).
“The Rohtang Tunnel alone may not be enough to make the Manali-Keylong-Leh highway an all-weather link as the Rohtang Pass helps only Keylong (headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district). Other passes that lie between Keylong and Leh also remain snowbound for
more than six months,” an official of the Border Road Organisation (BRO), which constructs roads along the international border, told IANS.
He said to avoid other passes, a stretch of the highway would be realigned.
“We are also going to construct a 292-km-long road from Nimu to Padam to Darcha via the Shinkunla Pass traversing the remote Zanskar region of Ladakh. For this, Rs.286 crore has been sanctioned by the defence ministry,” the BRO official said.
The BRO is also studying the feasibility of constructing a tunnel beneath the Shinkunla Pass.
“The ministry has asked the BRO to conduct a feasibility study for construction of a tunnel beneath the Shinkunla Pass that will further reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 100 km,” BRO’s Chief Engineer (Project Rohtang) P.K. Mahajan said.
“The climatic conditions in areas that lie on the highway are harsh as much of the land falls under a cold desert where temperature plummets to as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the working period is less than six months,” he said.
The strategic importance of the Manali-Leh link was realised by the Indian government almost a decade ago when Pakistan tried to cut off the Srinagar-Leh road during the Kargil conflict, in a bid to restrict road access to Ladakh.
Currently, the movement of armed forces to the forward areas in Ladakh from Manali side, that doesn’t fall in the firing range of Pakistan forces, is feasible only from June to mid-December.
With a round-the-year road link to tribal areas, the region will witness a huge influx of global tourists not only for nature-based activities but also for visiting ancient Buddhist monasteries, the BRO official said.
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- Snow clearing work begins on Manali-Leh highway - Mar 01, 2011
- Why Rohtang tunnel is important - Jun 28, 2010
- Work on Rohtang tunnel partially suspended after snowfall - Nov 21, 2010
- Solang awaits Sonia to launch ambitious tunnel work - Jun 27, 2010
- A mega tunnel under the 'pile of dead bodies' - Jun 27, 2010
- With press of a button, Sonia launches Rohtang tunnel construction (Lead) - Jun 28, 2010
- Tight security ahead of Gandhi's visit - Jun 25, 2010
- Sonia to lay Rohtang tunnel's foundation stone June 28 - Jun 03, 2010
- Rohtang Pass reopens for traffic - Aug 06, 2012
- Manali-Rohtang Pass closed after cloudburst - Aug 04, 2012
- Rohtang Pass reopens after five months - May 25, 2011
- Rohtang tunnel work in Himachal to begin June - May 05, 2010
- Diverting avalanches! More tech marvels unfold in Rohtang - Mar 15, 2012
- Rohtang Pass re-opens for traffic - Apr 14, 2010
Tags: border road, crore, defence ministry, forward areas, foundation stone, gulati, heavy snowfall, himachal pradesh, international border, jammu and kashmir, kullu district, lahaul and spiti district, nimu, progressive alliance, rohtang pass, rs 1, rupee, sonia gandhi, spiti, weather link