Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two public meetings, one in Sissu in the tribal district of Lahaul Spiti and another in Solang nullah ahead of Manali in Kullu district, after inaugurating the Atal Tunnel Rohtang on 3 October.

Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh will accompany the Prime Minister.

“Everything will, however, be organised following Covid guidelines. At both the public meetings, not more than 200 people, including media would be allowed and proper social distancing would be maintained,” he said.

Sharing the programme with the PM, the Chief Minister said the PM will flag off the bus (carrying people of Lahaul to Manali) by crossing over to the South Portal of tunnel on Lahaul side after inauguration. The inauguration would be done at South Portal (Manali side) in a brief function organised by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which constructed the tunnel.

The PM would fly back to Delhi the same day

He said initially it was thought the PM will stay at Keylong for one night on 3 October, but it could not be done due to security reasons owing to the ongoing border issues.

“It is a matter of proud for the state that former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s dream is fulfilled with the completion of this tunnel, which will give round the clock connectivity to the people of Lahaul who were otherwise stuck in tribal area due to snow on Rohtang pass for more than five months in a year,” the CM said.

He said the tunnel is of strategic importance for the nation, so the Prime Minister is also keen on dedicating it actually, despite it being Covid time.

He said the Atal tunnel is the longest tunnel (9.02 kilometres long) at over 10000 feet in the world. He said the tunnel was completed in ten years time with a budget of Rs 3300 crore. He said the tunnel has been closed till its inauguration.

Tribal Lahaul valley remains cut off from the rest of the world in winter months due to snow on Rohtang Pass. The tunnel will now by-pass Rohtang Pass.

The CM said the inauguration of Atal tunnel Rohtang will open new vistas of tourism and economy in Lahaul valley by giving it all weather connectivity and will help the younger generation working outside stay in touch with their native regularly. “The Rohtang Pass now could be utilised for tourism point of view,” he said.