SHIMLA: The cornerstone of the Rohtang tunnel laid by Congress President Sonia Gandhi is secured with the construction company that built the tunnel, Himachal Pradesh police said on Wednesday.
Police made this clarification two days after the Himachal Congress alleged that the cornerstone laid by Sonia Gandhi for the tunnel ten years ago was removed before it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 3.
Kullu Police Superintendent Gaurav Singh said the Border Roads Organization kept the stone in the machine shop of the tunnel construction company SAJV so that it could not be damaged during construction.
The SP said the Lahaul-Spiti police received a complaint from the District Congress about the missing stone and that it was passed on to the Kullu police.
It was revealed during the investigation that the foundation stone is safe and is in the workshop, he added.
Earlier in a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, state congressman Kuldeep Singh Rathore said on Monday that Gandhi laid the foundation stone on June 28, 2010 in the presence of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, after whom the tunnel was named, announced the project at a public meeting in Keylong de Lahaul-Spiti in June 2000.
He laid the foundation stone for a tunnel access road in 2002.
The congressional leader said if the stone was not reinstalled within two weeks, the party would launch a statewide unrest.
“It is an undemocratic, unconventional and illegal step never seen in the history of Indian democracy that the legally laid cornerstone of any project approved by the then government be removed after its completion to achieve the political goals of ‘a particular ideology,’ Congress said Himachal the leader had said in a two-page letter.
The President of the Congress of the Manali bloc, Hari Chand Sharma, had lodged the complaint in this regard with the Kullu police.
He had complained that the first stone laid by Gandhi at the south portal of the tunnel in the Dhoondi of Manali was missing.
Likewise, Lahaul-Spiti Congress leader Gialchhen Thakur filed a complaint with the Lahaul-Spiti police about this.
Keylong’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Hemant Thakur told PTI that the complaint was forwarded to Kullu Police as the Sonia Gandhi stone was laid at Dhoondi or Solang Nullah in Manali.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 9.2 km all-weather tunnel on October 3.
Built at an altitude of 10,040 feet, the Atal Rohtang Tunnel cuts the trip between Manali and Leh by 46 km, saving from four to five hours.
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