The Himachal Pradesh unit of the Congress on Monday threatened to launch a statewide protest against the alleged removal of a foundation stone laid by party president Sonia Gandhi at the newly inaugurated Atal Tunnel, reported NDTV.
In a letter to Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, state party president Kuldeep Singh Rathore warned of a protest if the missing foundation stone was not re-installed. “This is an undemocratic, unconventional and illegal step,” he said.
Rathore further claimed that anti-social elements have destroyed or removed many foundation stones laid by the Congress between 2012 and 2017, and said that no action has been against the culprits so far, The Indian Express reported. “The history of the state is being tampered with,” he added.
Two party leaders, Hari Chand Sharma and Gialchhen Thakur, have filed a police complaint seeking an inquiry into how the foundation stone has gone missing.
Gandhi had laid the foundation stone for the Rohtang Tunnel project at the south portal on June 28, 2010, at Dhoondi, Manali, the Congress said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the tunnel on October 3.
Described as the longest highway construction of its kind in the world (above 10,000 feet), the 9.02-km-long Atal Tunnel is built to “ultra-modern specifications” at an altitude of 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. It is a horseshoe-shaped, single-tube, double lane tunnel with a roadway of eight metres and has an overhead clearance of 5.52 metres.
The decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass in Himachal was taken on June 3, 2000, during Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term. The foundation stone for the access road to the South Portal was laid on May 26, 2002.
In 2019, the Union Cabinet decided to rename the Rohtang tunnel as Atal Tunnel to honour the contributions made by the former prime minister.