Rohtang tunnel likely to open next May

Shimla, Nov 22 (PTI) The 8.8-km-long Rohtang tunnel being built on the Leh-Manali highway may become operational in next six months, an official spokesperson said here on Friday.

He said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur during a meeting in New Delhi on Friday that efforts would be made to make the tunnel operational by May next year.

One of the longest road tunnels in the country, it is being built at an elevation of 10,171 feet under the under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas.

It will reduce the distance between Manali and tribal district Lahual-Spiti's administrative centre Keylong by around 45 kilometres.

After becoming operational, the Leh-Manali highway will remain open to traffic even during winter, benefitting residents of Himachal Pradesh's tribal district Lahaul-Spiti and newly formed union territory Ladakh.

Earlier, Thakur had urged Rajnath Singh to get the work on tunnel expedited.

Rohtang Pass receives heavy snowfall during winter months and remains open to road traffic for only five months in a year.

Thakur requested Rajnath Singh to explore possibilities of allowing residents of Lahaul-Spiti to use the tunnel before it becomes operational as the Rohtang Pass route has been officially closed by the administration due to heavy snowfall, the speokesperson said.

The CM requested for improving the condition of the stretches maintained by the Border Roads Organisation in the state, the spokesperson said.

Union Minister assured to provide all possible assistance to the state and complimented the chief minister for organising the investors' meet, he added.

The spokesperson said Thakur also met Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) Prahlad Singh Patel and requested for a speedy clearance of the Rs 45-crore Chintpurni Prasad project besides seeking funds for strengthening infrastructure at Rewalsar under the religious tourism circuit. PTI DJI RDK RDK