The soon-to-be-opened Atal tunnel being built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under the Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh will ensure connectivity to Leh and forward areas all round the year, a senior Army officer said on Tuesday.
The Army is in advanced stages of completing winter stocking of rations, clothing and accommodation for the large number of troops deployed in high-altitude regions of Ladakh at 14,000 feet and above due to the ongoing standoff.
So far, the Manali-Leh axis is closed for six months due to heavy snow which has been recently reduced to under 120 days, said Maj. Gen. Arvind Kapoor, Chief of Staff of Leh-based 14 Corps. With the Atal tunnel, the route will be open all year round, he said.
The 9-km long tunnel is scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi end of this month. Talking of the advanced winter stocking under way, Maj Gen. Kapoor said operational logistics are very important in these areas and in the last 20 years the Army has mastered it.
Informing the Lok Sabha on the border situation, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said for the winter deployment the troops are “accordingly being provisioned with suitable clothing, habitat and the required defence wherewithal”. “They are capable of serving at forbidding altitudes with scarce oxygen and in extremely cold temperatures, something that they have effortlessly done over the last many years on Siachen and Kargil,” he said.