Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the 8.8-km-long horseshoe-shaped Rohtang tunnel, which would make travel to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir from Manali in Himachal Pradesh possible round the year.
At present, the Leh region remains cut-off for six months a year because of the closure of Leh-Manali and Leh-Srinagar roads due to snowfall in the winter.
Rohtang Tunnel is a tunnel proposed to be built under the Rohtang Pass in the Leh-Manali Highway. The 9 km long tunnel will be the longest road tunnel in India and is expected to reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by over 60 km.It was planned to facilitate laying out of an alternative all-weather road route to strategically important areas of Ladakh and providing round-the-year connectivity to the remote Lahaul-Spiti valley.The project was conceived in 1983 and announced by Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 3 June 2000. The project was estimated to cost around INR 500 crores and to be completed in seven years. On 6 May 2002, Border Roads Organization was entrusted with the construction of the tunnel and on 23 May 2002, the work was inaugrated by Mr Vajpayee.. The cost of the project was revised to INR 1335 crore with an expected completion at 2010.However work didn’t progress much with the project not moving beyond tree felling stage by May 2003. By December 2004, the project cost estimate had escalated to INR 1700 crores On May 2007, the contract was awarded to SMEC International Private Limited, an Australian company and the completion date revised to 2014.Despite multiple announcements that the work on the tunnel will begin on 2008, no progress had been made till Nov 2009.