Atal Rohtang, world’s longest mountain tunnel, dedicated to nation by Modi


The Rohtang tunnel in Himachal Pradesh, which is the longest mountain tunnel in the world, cuts the road distance between Leh and Manali by 46 hours and reduces the travel time by five hours.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday dedicated the Atal Rohtang tunnel to the nation and also launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana at a function in the capital’s Vigyan Bhawan on the occasion of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary.

The Rohtang tunnel in Himachal Pradesh, which is the longest mountain tunnel in the world, cuts the road distance between Leh and Manali by 46 hours and reduces the travel time by five hours.

“This is a gift to the people of Himachal Pradesh on the occasion of Vajpayee-ji’s birthday. The Atal tunnel is a national tunnel of great importance both from the point of view of tourism and national security,” the prime minister said.

The decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. The 8.8-km-long tunnel is the world’s longest above an altitude of 3,000 metres.

The prime minister recalled that the tunnel was close to Vajpayee’s vision of development. “Those day, I was working for my party organization and was closely associated with its preparations. I never thought I would have the honour to dedicate it to the nation,” PM Modi said.

The tunnel will change the fortunes of people staying in Leh, Ladakh and Kargil, the prime minister said.

PM Modi also launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana, which aims to improve groundwater management through community participation in seven states with the highest levels of groundwater depletion. These are Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The scheme will cover 8350 ‘gram panchayats’, or village level administrative units, in 78 districts across these states.

“By establishing the Jal Shakti (water power) ministry, we have taken out water from compartmentalized approach and put it on a consolidated approach. Water was also very close to Atal-ji’s heart,” the prime minister said.

According to the prime minister, Atal Bhujal Yojana will focus on conservation and management of ground water in states that are critically water-stressed. “We have to reach our farmers and educate them that good and profitable agriculture is possible through sprinklers and drip irrigation and not by flood irrigation,” Modi said.

The prime minister said farmers were under the misconception that flooding their crops with water led to more productivity. He said Gujarat, when he was chief minister, saw a revolution in higher productivity of sugarcane by making drip irrigation compulsory.

The Atal Bhujal Yojana, which was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, is a central-sector scheme with an outlay of Rs 6,000 crore to be implemented over a period of five years (2020-21 to 2024-25).

“Out of the total outlay of Rs. 6000 crore, 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Central Government. The remaining 50% shall be through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support. The entire World Bank’s loan component and Central Assistance shall be passed on to the States as Grants,” a statement said.

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