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Sonia invokes Rajiv’s dream as Rohtang Tunnel work begins

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the long awaited Rohtang Tunnel project and reiterated the present regime’s...

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UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday laid the foundation stone for the long awaited Rohtang Tunnel project and reiterated the present regime’s commitment to include border areas in the burgeoning network of national highways as part of an effort to develop new infrastructural projects in these areas.

The 8.8-km tunnel is beneath the 13,050-ft-high Rohtang Pass and will connect the Lahaul valley with Manali through an all-weather road. The project,at the cost of Rs 1,495 crore,is expected to open opportunities for economic development and tourism in the area that remains cut off from the rest of India for six months due to heavy snowfall in Rohtang Pass. The road will also link Manali to Leh and Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Congress president remembered her husband and former prime minister the late Rajiv Gandhi’s “vision” in developing infrastructure projects like the Rohtang Tunnel — to connect Himachal’s remote areas with high-altitude roads — to boost economic development.

Sonia addressed a packed public rally in Solang valley,at the foothills of the Pir Panchal ranges near Manali. She said: “This occasion is not only important but an emotional issue for me as I see his dream project finally taking shape. He (Rajiv Gandhi) had conceived this project and also entrusted the survey to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in 1987.”

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She also spoke for the urgent need to establish better facilities for health,education,roads,power for border areas.

Sonia flew in on Monday morning and drove straight to Dhaundi,14 km from Manali,and laid the foundation stone in the presence of Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal,Defence Minister A K Antony and Union Minister of Steel Virbhadra Singh.

The construction of the tunnel is likely to be a challenge for the BRO as the area is prone to avalanches. The Congress president asked the BRO to ensure that minimum damage is done to the environment and the local Himalayan ecology due to the construction.

First published on: 29-06-2010 at 03:03 IST
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