Tag Archives: Himachal Pradesh

Prime Minister dedicates Atal Tunnel to the Nation

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi dedicates to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel, in Manali, Himachal Pradesh on October 03, 2020.

Tunnel is in the most difficult terrain of Pir Panjal ranges in Himachal Pradesh

Tunnel would directly benefit Himachal Pradesh, J&K Leh and Ladakh

Farmers, Horticulturists, Youth, Tourists, Security Forces will benefit immensely from the Tunnel

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel at its south portal in Manali, on Saturday 3 October 2020.

The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall.

The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).

The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.

It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicates to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel, in Manali, Himachal Pradesh on October 03, 2020. The Union Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur, the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Singh Thakur, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane and other dignitaries are also seen.

Prime Minister Modi travelled in the tunnel from the South Portal to the North Portal and also visited the emergency egress tunnel that was built into the main tunnel itself. He also witnessed a pictorial exhibition on “The Making of Atal Tunnel” on the occasion.

In his address, the Prime Minister termed the day as historic as it only fructifies the vision of the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee but also the decades old wish and dream of crores of people from the region.

He said Atal Tunnel is going to be a lifeline for a large part of Himachal Pradesh as well as the new Union Territory of Leh-Ladakh and would reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by 3-4 hours.

He added that now parts of ​​Himachal Pradesh and Leh-Ladakh will always be connected with the rest of the country and would witness speedier economic progress.

The PM said farmers, horticulturalists and youth will now also have easy access to the capital of Delhi and other markets.

The Prime Minister said that such border connectivity projects will also aid the security forces in ensuring regular supplies to them and also in their patrolling.

The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of the engineers, technicians and workers who risked their lives in making this dream come true.

He said Atal Tunnel is also going to give new strength to India’s border infrastructure and would be a living proof of world-class border connectivity. He said despite the longstanding demand to improve the infrastructure and overall development of the border areas, plans were made only to languish for decades without any progress.

The Prime Minister said Atal ji laid the foundation of the approach road for this tunnel in 2002. He said after Atal ji’s government, the work was so neglected that only 1300 metres i.e less than 1.5 Kms of tunnel could be built till 2013-14 i.e only about 300 metres each year.

Experts then explained that if it continued at that pace then the tunnel would be completed only in 2040.

The Prime Minister said that the Government then fast tracked the project and the construction went on at a speed of 1400 metres each year. He said the project could be completed in 6 years where the estimate was 26 years.

He said infrastructure should be developed at a fast pace when the country needs to progress economically and socially. Shri Modi said this needs unflinching political will and commitment for the progress of the nation.

He said the delay in the completion of such important and major infrastructure projects causes financial losses and deprives people of economic and social benefits,

He said in 2005, the estimated cost for the construction of the tunnel was about Rs. 900 crores. But due to continuous delays, today it has been completed after spending more than 3 times i.e. 3200 crore rupees.

The Prime Minister said many important projects were meted out the same treatment as the Atal Tunnel.

The strategically very important air strip in Ladakh as Daulat Beg Oldi remained uncompleted for 40–45 years though the Air Force wanted an air strip.

He said work on the Bogibeel Bridge also started during Atal ji’s government but work on it languished later. The Bridge provides key connectivity between Arunachal and the North East region. He said the work gained unprecedented momentum after 2014 and was inaugurated about two years ago on the occasion of Atal ji’s birthday.

He said Atal ji also laid the foundation stone of Kosi Mahasetu to connect two major regions of Mithilanchal in Bihar. After 2014, the Government expedited the work of Kosi Mahasetu and the bridge was inaugurated a few weeks ago.

The Prime Minister said the situation now changed and in the last six years the border infrastructure – be it roads, bridges or tunnels- is being developed with full impetus and great speed.

The Prime Minister said taking care of the needs of the security forces of the country is one of the highest priorities of the government. But this was also compromised earlier and the interests of the country’s defence forces were compromised.

He listed many initiatives of the Government to take care of the needs of the defence forces like implementation of One rank One pension scheme, procurement of a modern fighter plane, procurement of ammunition, modern rifles, bulletproof jackets, harsh winter equipment which were laid on hold by the previous Government. He said governments earlier did not have the political will to do so and said this situation is changing in the country today.

The Prime Minister said major reforms such as relaxation of FDI in Defence manufacture have been made so as to produce modern weapons and ammunition in the country itself.

The Prime Minister said reforms were initiated in the form of creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and establishing a better coordination in both procurement and production as per the requirements of the Defence forces.

He added that to match the rising global stature of India, the country has to improve its infrastructure, its economic and strategic potential at the same speed.

The Prime Minister said the Atal Tunnel is a shining example of the country’s resolve to become AatmaNirbhar (Self Reliant).

BJP retains Gujarat, captures power in Himachal

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New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party has defeated the main rival Congress in two States Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh with convincing majority.

The BJP has retained power in Gujarat by winning 99 of the 182 seats and restricting the Congress to 77 seats. The Nationalist Congress Party could manage to open it’s account in Gujarat with just one seat, while the Bharatiya Tribal Party has tagged two and one seat has gone to an independent candidate.

In Gujarat, it being the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP chief Amit Shah, BJP’s prestige was at stake. The Gujarat General election was being viewed as a mandate on 3-year plus rule of Modi at the Centre. Especially this was an acid test for the BJP when it came to gauging people’s mood and response to demonetization and introduction of GST. From the Congress side, Rahul Gandhi, who was elevated as party president during the course of electioneering for the Gujarat and Himachal polls, it was time to prove a point as the phrase goes, nothing succeeds like success. But failure in these elections that were fought bitterly with no holds barred on both sides – the Congress and BJP – will call for more than just introspection within the Congress camp, which has to put it’s house in order for the Assembly elections due next year and also the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In Gujarat, the Congress has paid a heavy price as it’s leader Rahul Gandhi was busy hobnobbing with rabble rouser Hardik Patel,  who is seen by many as a sectarian and divisive leader heading a movement in Gujarat to demand reservation for his Patel community. Gandhi’s new found love for temples and his declaration that he is a ‘janau dhari’ Shiv Bhakt (sacred thread wearing follower of Lord Shiva) also could not deliver dividends for the Congress that has been battling with the crisis of leadership for  a long time.

In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling Congress, has been defeated by the BJP, which has won 44 of the 68 seats in the Assembly against 21 bagged by the Congress. The Congress parry went to poll in Himachal with the handicap of defending it’s position against the onslaught of corruption charges against Virabhadra Singh, the longest-serving Chief Minister.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has won a seat while Independens have got two seats n Himachal. The victory notwithstanding what has come as a big setback for the BJP in this himalayan state is that it’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal has lost the election.

Himachal farmers start growing pomegranate and cabbage, as apple lines recede due to climate change

Dinesh C Sharma

Shimla: With apple production greatly affected due to changing climate in Himachal Pradesh, apple farmers are taking to cultivation of vegetables and ‘low chill’ fruits like pomegranate and kiwi.

Hill farmers are steadily moving towards other options, particularly in low and mid altitude (1200-1800 meters) regions of Kullu, Shimla and Mandi districts. They are following inter-cropping in apple orchards with vegetable crops as well as low chill varieties at lower elevations (1000-1200 meters). Farmers are also taking to protected cultivation of vegetables and flowers in a big way. Apple farmers in Kullu valley are growing pomegranate, kiwi and vegetables such as tomato, peas, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli.

Apples can be grown at altitudes 1500 to 2700 meters above mean sea level in the Himalayan range which provides 1000 to1600 hours of chilling necessary for production of good quality apples. As the region experiences warmer winters and erratic snowfall, the apple growing belt – known as apple line- is shifting to higher altitudes. Warmer winters in lower elevations has resulted into shifting of apple to higher elevations. In dry temperate regions of the state, increased temperature and early melting of snow since 1995 has shifted apple cultivation to higher reaches of Kinnaur (2200-2500 meters).

“Abnormal climatic factors during winters, flowering and fruit development stage have lowered apple productivity of the state,” said Prof S K Bhardwaj of Department of Environmental science, Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, while speaking at a media workshop on climate change here.

He said apple productivity in the region has seen dropped at the rate of 0.183 tonnes per hectare every year during the period from 2005 to 2014. The overall drop in productivity is 9.405 tonnes per hectare in last twenty years.

Warming winters have reduced chilling hours required for apple production. Chill unit hours in Kullu region, for instance have decreased at the rate of 6.385 chill units per year and an overall decrease of 740.8 chill units in last thirty years (1986-2015). Less number of chilling hours results in delayed foliation, reduced fruit set and increased buttoning – all of which contribute to poor fruit quality.

“The highly suitable apple production areas are now restricted only to higher hills of Shimla, Kullu, Chamba, dry temperate zones of Kinnaur and Spiti areas. The moderately suitable areas have now become marginal for apple production in the state,” he added.

Another major cause of apple production taking a hit is increased incidence of hailstorms during the flowering and fruit setting stages. The hails accompanied by other variable weather factors during 1998-99 and 1999-2000 dropped the yields to the minimum. The
quality of the crop was affected during the stage of growth and development in 2004-2005.

In April 2015, 0.67 lakh hectares crop area was affected due to hailstorms and unseasonal rains in the state. Many villages of Theog, Jubbal and Kotkhai were lashed with heavy hail storm grounding the unripened apple fruits in the month of May 2017. In some places, farmers have started using anti-hail guns, buy their effectiveness is still in doubt.

“There is an urgent need to focus attention on studying impacts of climate change on growth development, yield and quality of horticultural crops. The focus should also be on developing adaptation technologies and quantifying mitigation potential of horticultural crops and their dissemination among farmers,” Prof Srivastava added.

Giving an overview of changing weather patterns in HP, Dr Manmohan Singh (IMD, Shimla) pointed out that monsoon season in HP is expanding but overall rainfall is on a decline. Most IMD weather stations are reporting increasing trend in temperature in HP and J & K in the past thirty years. Snowfall days in Srinagar and Shimla is showing a decreasing trend during the same period. Snowfall season in the state is shrinking with decreasing seasonal snowfall and snowfall days.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), GIZ and the Climate Change Cell of Himachal Pradesh. (India Science Wire)

Twitter handle: @dineshcsharma


Himachal landslide hits two buses; 46 dead

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Shimla: Two Himachal Pradesh Roadways buses were crushed and at least 46 passengers have died in a massive landslide at Kotpuri near Padhar on the Mandi Pathankot national highway. About 50 passengers were travelling in the two ill-fated buses.


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The landslide was caused by a cloud burst. Local authorities said that beside the two buses some other vehicles also could have been hit by the landslide.