Days after Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the Atal Tunnel the Congress has alleged that a plaque bearing the name of party President Sonia Gandhi has been removed from the site. The party's wing in Himachal Pradesh has threatened to launch a protest against the same.
As per an ANI report, the Himachal Pradesh Congress chief has written to the Chief Minister stating that the plaque had been removed by the administration. "During inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel by the Prime Minister, the foundation stone laid by Sonia Gandhi on 28 June 2010, was removed by administration." He has asked for it to be reinstalled within 15 days, failing which the party "will hold agitation".
Kuldeep Singh Rathore, the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee has also taken to his Twitter account quoting excerpts from news reports about the allegations. Calling it an "undemocratic, unconventional and illegal step" he added that it the foundation stone was not restored, the party would organise a "massive state-level agitation against the government and the administration".
The idea of creating an all-weather road link between Manali and Leh was conceived in 1983. In In June 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced it. However, it was only in June 2010 that work on the tunnel actually began, after being shelved repeatedly. The Rohtang Passageway was renamed as the Atal Tunnel in December 2019 by Prime Minister Modi to mark the 95th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister.
The tunnel's foundation stone was laid by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010, in the Solang valley near Manali. While work was supposed to be completed in less than six years, it took a little more than 10 years to be ready. PM Modi had recently said that work had progressed at a very slow pace in the few years before the NDA government took over the reigns.
Work on only 1,300 meters was completed by 2013-14, Modi had noted, adding that the project would have been completed by 2040 by this pace before his government took charge in 2014 and speeded it up at an unprecedented rate. "Our govt increased the pace of construction from 300 meters/year to 1400 meters/year and completed the project in 2020," Modi said. In just six years the government completed the work of 26 years, he said.
(With inputs from agencies)