An air of festivity and enthusiasm pervades as people of the Lahaul valley prepare to accord a grand welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3 when he will arrive for the inauguration of the Atal Tunnel even though celebrations are sure to be scaled down to ensure strict social distancing norms.
Schedule for tunnel inauguration on Ocotber 3
- The PM will land at Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment base near Manali at 9.30 am
- He will drive straight to the south portal of the tunnel near Solang for formal inauguration
- He will then drive through the 9.02-km tunnel to reach the north portal
- He will proceed to Sissu where he will address the people of Lahaul and Spiti
“Modiji was very keen to stay one night at Keylong but considering the Prime Minister’s security protocol, it could not be possible,” says Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
“With the restriction of 200 persons at a public meeting, people are very disappointed as they want to present the traditional dress, local cuisine – nudhumor (milk-sugar, wheat sweet dish), manna (thin chappati of local flour) luhar (pan cake) — and other traditional gifts to Modiji,” says Sanjeev Kumar from Lahaul.
The Prime Minister, who has fond memories of having done paragliding in the Solang Valley near Kullu, while he was in-charge of the BJP in Himachal for over six years, was reportedly keen to inaugurate the Rohtang tunnel rather than virtual unveiling.
The people of Lahaul are making elaborate preparations to welcome the Prime Minister. Attired in their traditional costumes and playing “dhol nagare”, the traditional musical instruments, they will be lined up all along the eight-km route between the north portal of the tunnel and Sissu.
“Since only 200 persons will be allowed at the public meeting to be addressed by the Prime Minister, people are keen to accord a warm welcome en route for transforming their lives with the construction of the tunnel,” said Ram Lal Markanda, the local MLA, who is Minister for Technical Education and Tribal Affairs.
Modi, after landing at the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) base near Manali around 9.30 am, will drive straight to the south portal of the tunnel near Solang for the formal inauguration, drive through the 9.02 km tunnel to reach the north portal and then proceed to Sissu where he will address the people.
“It is not just the people of the Lahaul valley who want to express their gratitude to Modiji, but people from the Spiti valley also are coming to thank the Prime Minister,” says Sanjeev Kumar, a local. Other dignitaries, who are expected to be at the historic event include Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda and Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur.
What makes the people of this tribal area so upbeat on the completion of the tunnel is the fact that now they will not have to remain cut off from the rest of the world for over four months when the area is snowbound during the harsh winters.
“Even now most of us can’t believe that we will not remain cut off for four months and this happiness just cannot be expressed in words,” says Pushpa, former chairperson of Lahaul Zila Parishad.
The year-round connectivity for people of Lahaul will prove to be a boon, be it in terms of tourism, international level winter sports events and easy marketing of our agricultural and horticultural produce,” says Markanda.
Source : The Tribune