leh lifeline

As Rohtang dream becomes reality, focus on 4 more tunnels

Will herald economic prosperity for state; PM to inaugurate on Oct 3

As Rohtang dream becomes reality, focus on 4 more tunnels

File photo

Abhinav Vashisht

Kullu, September 27

As the decade-old dream of the strategic Rohtang tunnel becomes a reality, the ball has been set rolling for the construction of Shinkula and three other tactical tunnels which will enable the much-needed year round connectivity to Leh and other border areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive at Manali on October 3 to inaugurate the 9.02-km Atal Rohtang tunnel (13,058 feet), an engineering marvel which holds great strategic significance for the nation. It is after 10 years that the tunnel will finally be dedicated to the nation with Prime Minister Modi scheduled to address two public meetings at Sissu and Solang.

“It is the construction of the three other tunnels on the Manali-Sarchu Leh route which will actually be of strategic importance and provide all-weather road through the year for movement of forces to the border,” says Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. He said the construction of these tunnels will herald economic prosperity for Himachal by giving a major fillip to tourism and industry.

These three proposed tunnels are underneath the Baralacha La (16,040 feet), Lachung La (16,800 feet) and Tanglang La (17,480 feet) for all weather connectivity to Leh. The construction of the ambitious Manali-Leh rail line, though a mega projects would provide the most reliable connectivity to the border areas in a much faster time.

The other tunnel which has been proposed is Shinku La (16,703 feet) for which the alignment has been finalised by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation. The Border Road Organization (BRO) is making an alternative Manali-Shinku La-Padum-Kargil-Leh route by constructing a tunnel below Shinku La in Lahaul Spiti district. This tunnel will connect Zanskar valley with Lahaul. According to the BRO, the construction of the tunnel beneath Shinku La will also provide all-weather connectivity to the border areas

However, the complex geology and harsh terrain coupled with limited working days makes the task of tunnel construction at these lofty heights arduous. It was plugging the water flow at Seri Nullah for Rohtang tunnel which proved to be the most challenging task for those engaged in the construction work. This troublesome stretch of mere 587 mts took almost four years to be tackled, with the BRO at one stage almost giving up, point out officials.

The horseshoe shaped two lane tunnels constructed at a cost of over Rs 4,000 crore tunnel lies in the Pir Panjal range. The south portal of the tunnel is located at Dhundi near Manali and its north portal is at Sissu in Lahaul valley.

Almost all weather connectivity will be provided between Manali and Lahaul through this tunnel. It will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and save travel time of around two hours.

According to BRO officials, the Rohtang tunnel was constructed using 12,252 metric tonnes steel, 1,69,426 metric tonnes cement and 1,01,336 metric tonnes con the latest Austrian tunnelling method for construction.


Rohtang Tunnel

  • Cost: Over Rs 4,000 cr
  • Height: 13,058 feet
  • Span: 9.02 kms
  • Will reduce distance between Manali-Leh by 46 kms
  • Foundation stone laid on June 28, 2010
  • Located on the 475-km Manali-Keylong-Leh road

Others projects

  • The 3 proposed tunnels are underneath the Baralacha La (16,040 ft), Lachung La (16,800 ft) and Tanglang La (17,480 ft) for all weather connectivity to Leh
  • The other tunnel which has been proposed is Shinku La (16,703 feet) for which the alignment has been finalised. The BRO is making an alternative Manali-Shinku La-Padum-Kargil-Leh route by constructing a tunnel below Shinku La in Lahaul Spiti district. This tunnel will connect Zanskar valley with Lahaul

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