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Posted at: Apr 22, 2015, 12:49 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2015, 11:02 PM (IST)

Rohtang tunnel work to be completed by 2017: Experts

Our Correspondent

KULLU, APRIL 21

Harsh climatic and geological conditions have delayed the construction activities of BRO’s ambitious project of 8.8-km Rohtang tunnel, which aims at making the Manali-Leh highway motorable throughout the year.

The tunnel being constructed jointly by German group Strabag and an Indian construction house AFCON will reduce the existing distance of 118 km between Manali and Keylong by 46 km.

The then UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had laid the foundation stoneof the tunnel in 2010 and the proposed completion date set at June 2015 was later postponed to October 2017.

Experts said it took over five years to dig more than half of the total length of the tunnel and it might take the same time to excavate the remaining tunnel.

Experts said the excavation job at the center, where mountain cover was higher, was much difficult than the adits or corners of the tunnel, which had been accomplished so far from both ends.

The construction work at the north portal near Sissu in Lahaul valley remained suspended in the past four months, as the region experienced heavy snowfall.

Col KP Rajendra Kumar, Commander, Border Road Task Force (BRTF), Manali said: “The road has been restored till Marhi so far and the connectivity to Lahaul valley through the 13, 500 ft Rohtang Pass will be restored by the second week of May.”

The presence of loose strata and seepage from the tunnel had reportedly added to the woes of the construction company.

Company and BRO authorities, however, claimed that despite hardships, the project would be accomplished by 2017.

Even Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had instructed to expedite the construction of the tunnel and accomplish the same within a prescribed time frame.

Experts said while Rs 1,355 crore had been earmarked for the construction of the project, the probable delay would escalate its cost.

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