Taking a jibe at Congress leaders for giving credit of Atal Tunnel Rohtang’s construction to Sonia Gandhi, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday said it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who paved the way for the tunnel.
Addressing a public meeting at Udaipur in Lahaul Spiti district, Thakur said Vajpayee had made the announcement for the construction of the tunnel after witnessing the difficulties faced by the tribals.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to say that Lahaul is very beautiful but it is tough to come here and leaving the place is equally a daunting task. Vajpayee made the announcement at the very place (Udaipur), gave directions to officials to prepare a plan for construction of the tunnel, made budgetary provisions and even laid its foundation. But Congress leaders claim that the construction of the tunnel was possible due to the efforts of Sonia Gandhi,” he added.
Thakur stated that he was fortunate enough to oversee Rohtang Tunnel’s construction and it was the state Cabinet which had proposed the naming of it as Atal Tunnel Rohtang after Vajpayee’s death.
The tunnel has opened new vistas in tourism development in the area and it was a dream project of Vajpayee which was fulfilled by our present PM Narendra Modi, the CM said.
“Atal Tunnel Rohtang has provided all weather road connectivity to the landlocked hinterland and it has now increased the influx of tourists to the valley which would help in strengthening the economy of the people,” he stated.
He further stated that the state government will make efforts to develop the district from tourism point of view and sanction had been accorded for opening of 407 homestays in the valley.
The CM said this year the valley was badly affected due to unexpected floods and as many as ten people lost their lives in it but the state government immediately started a relief and rescue operation.
In order to provide relief to the people affected by recent floods in Udaipur, the state government has provided a special package of Rs 10 crore.
In addition, the victims of the flood incident in Lahaul valley will be provided compensation four times higher as given to the affected families in Kinnaur district.
He added that several welfare schemes such as HIMCARE, Himachal Gharini Suvidha Yojna, Sahara Yojna, Shagun Yojna, social security pension scheme etc had ensured socio-economic upliftment of the people of the state.
“The state government has made a budget provision of Rs 136 crore during the current financial year for Lahaul-Spiti district under Tribal Area Development Programme out of which Rs 72 crore was being spent in Lahaul area and Rs 64 crore in Spiti area,” he stated.
He inaugurated and laid foundation stones of developmental projects worth about Rs 66.50 crore at Udaipur and Keylong area of the tribal district.