Tourist footfalls in the picturesque, remote Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh will spike with the construction of the 8.8-km horseshoe shaped Rohtang tunnel, an engineering marvel, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh informed the assembly on Thursday. He said steps were being taken by the government to provide basic infrastructure and other facilities to attract tourists to the valley in Lahaul-Spiti district.
“Land identification is under process for the construction of an airport in the district,” the Chief Minister said in a written reply. The rafting stretch from Darcha to Jispa on the Bhaga river and from Kaza bridge to Tabo has been notified by the state government.
From 2015 to 2017, Rs 40 lakh has been sanctioned and utilised for the development and beautification of Buddhist Gompas, he said.
The proposal regarding installation of a ski lift in Keylong, the district headquarters, is also under process for which a detailed estimate is awaited from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali, he added.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a wing of the Defence Ministry, aims to open the Rohtang tunnel, which was earlier scheduled to be completed by 2015, for traffic in 2019. The excavation of a tunnel under the Rohtang Pass, one of the most strategically important infrastructure projects in the country, is at altitudes ranging between 3,053 and 3,080 metres.
The project is being executed by the BRO in collaboration with Strabag-Afcons, a 60:40 joint venture between Strabag SE of Austria and India’s Afcons Infrastructure Ltd.