Kullu, June 11
President Ram Nath Kovind said today that the future of the country was associated with the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang. Kovind, during a brief interaction with mediapersons at the South Portal of the Atal Tunnel, said that it was a marvelous creation.
He added that infrastructure development would help the country grow. “I had visited Manali many times but could not visit Lahaul because of various hindrances. I am glad that I was able to visit the Lahaul valley because of the tunnel,” he said.
Earlier, the President, along with First Lady Savita Kovind and his daughter, arrived at Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti district. They were received and welcomed by Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda presented him with a Thangka painting and a Khatak. Local women gave him a traditional welcome.
He interacted with local people and had breakfast in the Sissu valley. The President evinced keen interest in the Sissu Lake, Chandrabhaga river, waterfalls and the beautiful valley near the helipad.
Later, the President crossed the 9.02-km Atal Tunnel constructed at a cost of Rs 3,200 crore and arrived at its South Portal where Jitendra Prasad, Chief Engineer of Project Yojak, Border Roads Organisation, briefed him about its construction and other important tunnels to be built on the Manali-Leh road. He then drove to the Defence Geoinformatics Research Establishment at Bahang, near Manali. He was given a warm send-off on the conclusion of his two-day visit to the state.
Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur, Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh and DGP Sanjay Kundu were present.
Meanwhile, the Atal Tunnel remained out of bounds for tourists from 8 am to 11 am in view of the VVIP movement. Kullu SP Gurdev Sharma said that an advisory was issued to people to avoid visiting the tunnel and they had planned their journeys accordingly. He added that vehicles were allowed to move towards the Rohtang Pass and were stopped at the Vashisht barrier only for a brief time.