Sonia lays stone of Rajiv’s dream project


Prime VIP
Solang (Manali), June 28

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said national security and welfare of people of the border areas had always remained a priority of her government and construction of the Rohtang tunnel was another milestone in that direction. She was laying the foundation stone of the Rs 1,495 crore Rohtang tunnel.

“For me, this is an emotional moment. Construction of the tunnel is fulfilment of the dream seen by Rajivand both Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi had close affinity with Himachal,” she said at a public meeting at Solang here today. She earlier laid the foundation stone of the 8.8-km tunnel at the South portal at Dhundi, 51 km from Manali.

“Construction of the tunnel will provide a strategic all-weather connectivity to the border areas in Ladakh and give a boost to tourism in the Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti areas,” she said. The UPA was committed towards ensuring development in border areas of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir, she added.

“No doubt it is a historic moment, but we must not forget to pay homage to the valiant soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for the nation,” she said, adding that Himachal was aptly called the “land of gods and fearless warriors”.

She said the government was committed to the welfare of serving Army personnel and ex-servicemen. “The Centre has always been sympathetic towards the needs of the hill people and several big projects like a Central University, IIT, ESI hospital have been granted for Himachal,” she added.

She said construction of the tunnel would better the lives of people of the rugged area but it must be ensured that there was no damage to the fragile Himalayan ecology. “I have full faith in the competence of engineers of the Border Roads Organisation,” she said.

She said the CM had made certain requests like setting-up a super-speciality hospital and extension of the Bhuntar airport, which she would take up with the two ministers. Defence Minister AK Antony assured that work would be completed to meet the February 2015 deadline.