Rohtang tunnel which is being built at 11000-13000 ft above the sea level and is going to connect Lahaul- Spiti with Manali other parts of the State will open for public by November 2019. The construction of this 8.8 km long tunnel is being carried out by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) which is a part of Defence Ministry in collaboration with Strabag AG company.
In the year 2010, The foundation stone of Rohtang tunnel was laid by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The tunnel was supposed to be completed by February 2015 but failed to do so because of harsh weather conditions in the area which made excavation a tough job for the workers. And now torrential inflow called Seri rivulet is posing challenge for the engineers. The delay of these 5 years has led to incurring of extra cost of around 20 million rupees.
This tunnel will cut down the distance between Keylong, the district headquarters of Lahaul- and Manali by 48 KMS and by 3-4 hours in peak season and the tribals of Lahaul- will for the first time be connected to the outside world. They are currently connected via Rohtang Pass which closes for six months every year from November to May. This leads to Spiti and Lahaul being disconnected from rest of the country for those six months. Despite of the weather conditions, 3000 vehicle’s can play across the tunnel every day.
Right now the tunnel is not safe to enter and is open to be accessed only in case of medical or other emergencies. Still people have queued outside both ends of the tunnel, in fact last year few locals forcefully entered the tunnel after which they felt suffocated and had to be evacuated by the police. This led to sealing both ends of the tunnel by the company. A wall has also been built on the Manali side of the wall which will be opened this year.