New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is in Rohtang to inaugurate the Atal Tunnel, on Saturday said that the tunnel will act as a lifeline not just for a big part of Himachal Pradesh but also for Ladakh.
“Atal Tunnel, apart from a big region in Himachal Pradesh, will also become a lifeline for the new union territory Ladakh. With this, Leh-Ladakh, and this big region of Himachal Pradesh will always stay connected with the other parts of the country, and will quickly move forward on the path to progress,” the Prime Minister said.
The PM thanked and saluted all jawans, engineers, labourers who had risked their lives to ensure the completion of the tunnel.
“Atal Tunnel will give new strength to India`s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity,” he said.
Terming it as a historic day, the Prime Minister claimed that along with the fulfilment of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s dreams, the wait of crores of Himachal residents have also come true.
“This tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Kelong by three to four hours. My brothers and sisters from the hills can understand the meaning of this,” he said.
“The strategically important Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh remained closed for 40-45 years. I don`t want to go into details as to what was the helplessness and the pressure behind it. Much has been written and told about it, but it is true that the Air Force was able to start the airstrip because of its own interests, there was no political will in it,” he said.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Himachal Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State (MoS) Anurag Thakur, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane.