New Delhi: The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has finally begun work on the much awaited 8.8 km long Rohtang Tunnel, to be built at an altitude of over 3,000 mts in the Pir Panjal range, enabling an all-weather road link across the snow-capped Rohtang Pass at a height of 3,978 mts above the sea level. The tunnel will provide unhindered road access to the remote regions of Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi Valley throughout the year, besides reducing the road distance by nearly 48 Kms, a travel time of about four hours. The foundation stone for “Project Rohtang” as it has come to be known, was laid by Sonia Gandhi in Manali on 28 June. The work on the tunnel is expected to take four and a half years and will be completed by February 2015.
Drilling work also started at the exit point, joining the Manali-Sarchu road, over Chandra river. The tunnel will incorporate semi-transverse ventilation system, where large fans would separately circulate air, in and out throughout the tunnel length and thus reduce vehicular fumes.
Since the Rohtang tunnel may not be enough to make the Manali-Keylong-Leh highway an all-weather road due to two other major snow-bound passes on way - Baralacha La and Thaglang La, the project also envisages construction of a 292 kms long all-weather road, Nimu-Padam-Darcha via Shinkunla Pass, traversing the remote Zanskar region of J&K, at an additional estimated cost of Rs286 cr.