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PM Modi inaugurates Atal Tunnel

Our Bureau October 3 | Updated on October 03, 2020 Published on October 03, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of Atal tunnel, world's longest highway tunnel, in Manali   -  DD/PTI Photo

Development of border infrastructure is critical for economic progress: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the strategically-important Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh that will boost connectivity between Manali and the Lahaul-Spiti valley region throughout the year, and will reduce the travel time to Leh by about four-five hours.

The Prime Minister said that the tunnel will be  “a lifeline” not just for Himachal Pradesh but also for the newly-formed Union Territory (UT) of Leh and Ladakh and the region would witness speedier economic progress.

Terming the day as “historic”, the PM said that this not only “fructifies the vision and dream of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee”, but also the decades-old wish of crores of people of the region.

The then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had inaugurated the approach road to Atal Tunnel in 2002, but the project was almost forgotten after his government lost power, Modi said.

Also read: Megha Engg to build ₹4,509-cr J&K-Leh Zojilla Pass tunnel

He said that work on the tunnel was completely neglected and only 1,300 metres of the tunnel could be built till 2013-14.  Experts estimated that at such a slow pace of construction, the tunnel would get completed only by 2040, Modi said. “Our government fast-tracked the project and increased the pace of construction from 300 meters/year to 1,400 meters/year and completed the project in 2020. In just six years, we completed the work which had been estimated to take 26 years for completion,” Modi said.

Citing the examples of projects such as Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh and Kosi Mahasetu in Bihar, the PM said there had been similar lack of political will and commitment in the past to complete many other projects which were critical for the country’s social and economic progress.

“Delay in the completion of such important and major infrastructure projects causes financial losses and deprives people of economic and social benefits. In 2005, the estimated cost of construction of the Atal Tunnel was about ₹900 crore. But due to continuous delays it has been completed after spending nearly ₹3,200 crore,” Modi added.

The Prime Minister said the situation has now changed and the government is giving full thrust to development and completion of border infrastructure projects — roads, buildings and tunnels.

“Nothing is more important to us than national interest and protecting the country, but the nation has seen an era when defence interests were also compromised,” he said.

The Prime Minister said major reforms such as relaxation of FDI in Defence manufacturing have been made to boost domestic production of modern weapons and ammunition, adding that taking care of the needs of the security forces of the country is one of the top priorities of the government.

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Published on October 03, 2020
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