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The Himachal Pradesh government today said it was prepared to cope with the increased tourist inflow in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti after the opening of the Rohtang tunnel. "The government is aware that the tourist rush to the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti would increase after the opening of the Rohtang tunnel and is prepared to cope with the situation," Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said in a written reply to a query from Congress MLA Ravi Thakur in the Assembly. Singh said steps were being taken to provide basic infrastructure to attract tourists to Lahaul-Spiti. The 8.9-km-long Rohtang tunnel project, which has repeatedly hit roadblocks due to harsh weather conditions and geological issues, is likely to open to traffic in a couple of years. The tunnel, which is of strategic importance, would provide round-the-year connectivity to the picturesque Lahaul valley, which remains inaccessible for six months every year due to heavy snowfall at the 13,050-foot-high Rohtang pass. Being built underneath the Rohtang pass, it would make life easy for the tribals, help tourists reach the valley easilyand reduce the distance considerably. The Chief Minister informed the House that the rafting stretches from Darcha to Jispa in the Bhaga River and from Kaza Bridge to Tabo have been notified by the government under the Himachal Pradesh River Rafting Rules, 2005. He said in 2015-16, Rs 40 lakh were sanctioned and utilised for the development and beatification of 'gompas' (Buddhist monasteries).
In addition, a sum of Rs 4,51,040 had been spent on training the local youth in tourism-related activities. Singh said the proposal regarding the installation of a ski lift project at Barbog in Keylong was under process and a detailed estimate was awaited from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali. He also said the process of identifying land for the construction of an airport at Lahaul-Spiti was underway. There were 91 registered hotels and guest houses and 20 home-stay units in the district, he added.
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