Press Trust of india

Rohtang tunnel stone laid by Sonia Gandhi removed before opening by PM Modi: Cong

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Shimla:  The Himachal Congress on Monday alleged that the foundation stone laid by its national president Sonia Gandhi for the Rohtang tunnel a decade ago was removed before its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3.

In a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, state Congress president Kuldeep Singh Thakur said Gandhi had laid the foundation stone on June 28, 2010 in the presence of the then CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union minister Virbhadra Singh.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, after whom the tunnel has been named, had announced the project during a public meeting at Lahaul-Spiti’s Keylong in June, 2000.

He had laid the foundation stone for an approach road to the tunnel in 2002.

The Congress leader said if not reinstalled within a fortnight, the party will launch a statewide agitation.

“This is an undemocratic, unconventional and illegal step ever noticed in the history of Indian democracy that the legally laid foundation stone of any project approved by the then government is removed after its completion to fulfil political goals of a particular ideology,” the Himachal Congress chief said in the two-page letter.

Meanwhile, Manali block Congress president Hari Chand Sharma submitted a complaint in this regard to the Kullu police.

He complained that the foundation stone laid by Gandhi at the south portal of the tunnel in Manali’s Dhoondi was missing.

Sharma told PTI that he has sought an investigation into the disappearance of the foundation stone. He said arrangements should be made to reinstall it at the same place.

When asked when he noticed that it was missing, Sharma said he found it “just now”.

Sharma alleged it was a “deliberate attempt” to remove the evidence about Sonia Gandhi having laid the stone of the tunnel.

Similarly, Lahaul-Spiti Congress chief Gialchhen Thakur submitted a complaint to police in this regard.

Keylong Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Hemant Thakur told PTI that the complaint was forwarded to the Kullu police as the stone by Sonia Gandhi was laid in Dhoondi or Solang Nullah in Manali.

Kullu SP Gaurav Singh said no FIR has been registered in this regard so far.

Meanwhile reacting to the criticism, Himachal BJP president Suresh Kashyap said the Congress had removed foundation stones laid by the Prem Kumar Dhumal government when it came to power in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the all-weather 9.2-km-long tunnel on October 3.

Constructed at an altitude of 10,040 feet, it reduced the travel between Manali and Leh by 46 km, saving four to five hours.

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