Chenani-Nashri Tunnel: Cong wants credit for the project; separatists call for strike in valley

Asmita Sarkar
chenani nashri tunnel, inauguration prime minister modi

The BJP is facing flak from the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir for not giving them due credit for the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel, while the separatists think that the tunnel will not be adequate to bring peace in the valley. The 9km tunnel, India's longest, was inaugurated on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The route connecting the state's winter and summer capitals has been hailed as a "game-changer" and "life-line" by the Central government, which has taken the entire credit for the project. The Congress and the National Conference have repeatedly claimed that the project was approved by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in April 2011. 

The local Congress leaders are also upset that they were not invited for the project, which was halfway through, when the government changed hands at the Centre.  

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Separatists call for strike in the valley

Chairmen of rival factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik - in a joint statement said: "All rhetoric about development or construction of tunnels and roads are futile and will not succeed in luring us." They called for a strike in Kashmir valley. 

While the move was celebrated in Jammu, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the tunnel, shops, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut in Srinagar. 

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Public transport was also off the roads, while private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws plied normally. 

The separatist leaders said the Prime Minister was visiting the state at a time when situation was "extremely gloomy."

"Calling or observing a shutdown does not meet the demands of the situation, but there is no other option left by the authorities. We do not nourish any animosity with the Indian Prime Minister, but it is frightening and painful that instead of taking notice of genocide in the state, he is awarding and rewarding assassins," they said.

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The separatists said Kashmir is a "political issue and not a problem related to governance, economic packages, incentives or law and order."  

srinagar strike, chenani nashri

Congress demands recognition 

Meanwhile, the Congress party demanded recognition for starting the project in 2011 under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh. 

Former J&K Roads and buildings minister GM Saroori told International Business Times, India, "The proposal for the project was given in 2010 during a meeting of all road ministers. Kamal Nath ji said we will be making this road since people face problems. A fund of Rs 9,700 crore was allotted for the project from Jammu to Srinagar. During UPA 2, the project was given to Lighton company, they completed 75 percent of the work. The rest 20 percent was done by the contractor taken on board by BJP government.

This is an official function and they should call every party. They are not consulting with any parties in Kashmir. Till there was Congress government, there was no problem." 

He further added that the foundation stones for Zojila and Chenani-Nashri tunnels were laid by Congress. 

10 workers died while making the tunnel

While the BJP has said that the construction of the tunnel would increase growth and development in the state, the lesser known facts about it are the people who died while making it. 

On January 1, 10 people died and four were injured after a fire broke out at the base camp of Beigh Construction Company (BCC) that was building the Chenani-Nashri tunnel at the Dalwas area of Chanderkote on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

The fire happened because of a short circuit at the barracks of labourers working on tunnel. 

BJP MLAs upset over high-command's behaviour

Reports also said that certain BJP MLAs were miffed at the party high command for not seating them on the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The local MLAs were told to sit with the general public. 

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