Name Rohtang tunnel after Vajpayee: Himachal Cabinet

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Shimla : The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on Monday urged the Centre to name one of the world's most challenging upcoming motorable projects at 3,000 metre above sea level after the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

It said Vajpayee was the only national leader who thought of ending the five months of exile every year of the residents of the landlocked Lahaul Valley by constructing a tunnel beneath the Rohtang Pass.

The idea to construct the tunnel was conceived by Vajpayee in 1998 and he announced the project on June 3, 2000, the Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, said in a statement.

A resolution adopted by the Cabinet said the tunnel project was nearing completion and would be the biggest gift of Vajpayee to the state.

As a respect to him, who considered the hill state his second home, the state Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) government also decided to re-name the Mukhya Mantri Adarsh Vidya Kendra Scheme launched by the state as Atal Adarsh Vidya Kendra, and Mukhya Mantri Aashirwad Scheme as Atal Aashirwad Scheme.

It also decided to construct a memorial in picturesque tourist resort Manali in memory of the former Prime Minister, who passed away on August 16 at the age of 93.

Vajpayee had constructed a tastefully built house in typical hill architecture in Prini, located on the outskirts of Manali.

Vajpayee last visited the house, currently out of bounds for people due to security reasons, for a quiet sojourn in June 2006. That was two years after his government was voted out in the national elections. Since then the house wears a deserted look.

Neighbours fondly recall the days when Vajpayee as Prime Minister came here every summer and mingled with the locals.

The Cabinet also decided to raise a statue of Vajpayee either at The Ridge or The Mall in the state capital.

The Cabinet sent a proposal to the Union government to rename the Kol Dam Project, which was inaugurated by Vajpayee when he was the Prime Minister, after him.