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2555Work on country's longest road tunnel to begin next year

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  • Rajesh Chandwani
    May 7, 2007
      Work on country's longest road tunnel to begin next year

      Staff Correspondent (The Hindu)

      The 8.802 km long Rohtang Tunnel is being designed to carry traffic
      load at 80 kmph


      SHIMLA: The consultancy contract for the multi-crore Rohtang Tunnel
      project has been given to an Australian company, SMEC International
      Private Limited.

      The contracts would be awarded by the end of the year and work on the
      country's longest road tunnel project would begin by next year, said
      Brigadier Krishan Pratap Singh, head of the project, here on
      Thursday.

      He said the cost of constructing the tunnel had been projected at Rs.
      943.32 crore and of building the road up to the north end and south
      end of the tunnel had been estimated at an additional Rs. 180.30
      crore.

      The tunnel will be 8.802 km long and is being designed to carry a
      traffic load at 80 km per hour. The target year for completion of the
      tunnel is 2014. It would help reduce the distance by 46 km and
      provide round-the-year access to Lahual Valley that gets landlocked
      due to heavy snow for six to seven months in a year, said Brig.
      Singh.

      He said geological studies were being conducted and, depending on the
      rock structure, either the traditional drill and blast technique or
      the faster working boring machine would be employed to construct the
      tunnel which is of a great strategic interest to the defence forces.

      If boring machine is deployed for construction, the completion of the
      tunnel could be advanced by a year, he added. The project has been
      envisaged to build an alternative year-round link to the Ladak region
      of Jammu and Kashmir.

      Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the
      prestigious project in May 2002. Meanwhile, access to the landlocked
      snow-bound Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh will be permitted from
      May 10, as the Border Roads Organisation has cut through the major
      glaciers on the way to Rohtang Pass, Brig Singh announced on
      Thursday.

      He said repair work was going on over the high-altitude road and
      emergency supplies of gas, food grains and other essential
      commodities would be allowed from this weekend.

      For tourism and other general purposes Rohtang Pass (altitude 13,050
      ft) will become operational by May 10, said Brig Singh.