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Atal Tunnel will strengthen India’s border infrastructure: PM Modi
Atal Tunnel is an example of world-class border connectivity: PM Modi
There is nothing more important for us than protecting the country: PM Modi

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – Atal Tunnel at its south portal in Manali, today.

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 Shri 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.

He 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).

 

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There is no substitute to testing, tracking and treatment: PM
All necessary measures must be taken to ramp up the availability of hospital beds for Covid patients: PM
Local administrations need to be proactive and sensitive to people’s concerns: PM
PM reviewed the status of supply of Remdesivir and other medicines
Installation of approved medical oxygen plants should be accelerated: PM
Utilize the entire national capacity to ramp up vaccine production: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review the status of preparedness to handle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Various aspects relating to medicines, oxygen, ventilators and vaccination were discussed.

The Prime Minister said that together India had defeated Covid last year & India can do it again, with the same principles but faster speed and coordination.

The PM stressed that there is no substitute to testing, tracking and treatment. Early testing and proper tracking remains key to reduce mortality. He also said that local administrations need to be proactive and sensitive to people’s concerns.

The Prime Minister directed that close coordination with States must be ensured in handling the pandemic. He said that all necessary measures must be taken to ramp up the availability of hospital beds for Covid patients. The Prime Minister also directed that additional supply of beds through temporary hospitals and isolation centres should be ensured.

PM spoke about the need to utilize the full potential of India’s pharmaceutical industry to meet the rising demand of various medicines. He reviewed the status of supply of Remdesivir and other medicines. The Prime Minister was briefed on actions taken to address the issue of availability of Remdesivir. Through the efforts of the Government, capacity and production augmentation for manufacturing of Remdesivir has been ramped up to provide around 74.10 lakh vials/month in May while the normal production output in January-February being just 27-29 lakh vials/month. Supplies have also increased from 67,900 vials on 11th April going up to over 2,06,000 vials on 15th April 2021 which are being particularly focused on states with high caseload and high demand. He took note of the ramped up production capacity, and directed that issues relating to real-time supply chain management to States must be resolved urgently in coordination with the States. The Prime Minister directed that use of Remdesivir and other medicines must be in accordance with approved medical guidelines, and that their misuse and black marketing must be strictly curbed.

On the issue of supply of medical oxygen, the Prime Minister directed that the installation of approved medical oxygen plants should be sped up. 162 PSA Oxygen plants are being installed in 32 States/UTs from PM CARES. The officers informed that 1 lakh cylinders are being procured & they will be supplied to states soon. The officers briefed the PM that they are in constant supply with 12 high burden states in assessing the current and future requirement of medical oxygen. A supply mapping plan for 12 high burden states till 30th April has also been undertaken. The Prime Minister also said that supply of oxygen required for production of medicines and equipment necessary to handle the pandemic should also be ensured.

The Prime Minister also reviewed the status of availability & supply of ventilators. The Prime Minister noted that a real time monitoring system has been created, and directed that concerned State governments should be sensitized to use the system proactively.

On the issue of vaccination, the Prime Minister directed all officials to make efforts to utilize the entire national capacity, in public as well as private sector, to ramp up vaccine production.

He was joined by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Union Home Secretary, Union Health Secretary, Pharma Secretary. Dr V K Paul, Niti Aayog was also present.