Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on Friday was incessantly trolled on social media for a false ‘Srinagar to Leh in 15 minutes’ claims. And if that was not enough, the project that the minister was attributing to the Narendra Modi government, was already approved by the Manmohan Singh government in October 2013.
This was after Irani tweeted a PTI story on the Union Cabinet approving Zojilla Pass tunnel that will considerably reduce the time of journey to cross the Zojila Pass. However, Irani’s tweet claimed that the cabinet’s decision will reduce the travel time between Srinagar and Leh to 15 minutes.
Her tweet said, “Srinagar to Leh in 15 minutes: Cabinet approves Zojila Pass tunnel project.”
In no time, the minister began to be trolled by social media users, who were quick to correct her.
Here are some reactions;
Mam it’s not Srinagar to Leh in 15 min but the tunnel takes approx 15 min to cross.Pls check facts before tweeting after all u are an Reputed Central minister https://t.co/gFYLoKQ2M7
— Pradyot_Tripura (@PradyotManikya) January 5, 2018
You may want to correct your tweet. It can’t be Srinagar to Leh in 15 min. It is the time that will be taken to cross the tunnel. Srinagar-Leh will most likely to take 18-20 hours. The original headline by ToI is wrong.
— Nitin A. Gokhale (@nitingokhale) January 5, 2018
Yale Aunty goofs up again!!
Why are you in such a hurry to shout from the roof top?
Read the article first and then Tweet
We understand that your IQ is negligible to corelate 802 Km distance between Srinagar and Leh can’t be covered in 15mins even by air #NeedEducatedCabinet
— K Padma Rani (@KPadmaRani1) January 5, 2018
Not correct. The distance between Srinagar and Leh is 434 km.
— Mufti Islah (@islahmufti) January 5, 2018
It seems the PTI story used by Times of India had carried wrong facts. The ToI was quick to carry a clarification, “Corrigendum: An earlier version of this agency story wrongly mentioned that the travel time between Srinagar and Leh would be reduced to 15 minutes. The proposed tunnel would reduce the travel time of crossing Zojila Pass from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. The error is regretted.”
However, the question is why Irani went on to post wrong facts even when she herself was part of the cabinet that approved the Zojila Pass tunnel project. The embarrassment for the minister was more particularly because this also highlighted that on this occasion, she was quoting the PTI report as opposed to the news agency quoting her.
The distance between Leh and Srinagar is over 800 kms and it takes more than 21 hours by road.
There’s a direct flight between Srinagar and Leh and the travel time even by a plane is 55 minutes.
There was another factual mistake in Irani’s claims. It was the cabinet of Manmohan Singh government, which had already approved the Zojila Pass project. This is what the BJP-leaning Pioneer newspaper had reported on 18 October 2013.
“Last year, Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi laid the foundation stone for Z-Morh Tunnel (6.5 kms), which is expected to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar-Kargil-Leh and Ladakh. Both the projects together may take over 10 years to complete and may cost close to Rs 20,000 crore.”
On Friday’s cabinet approval, the PTI report said, “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its go-ahead to the 14.2-km long tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, which remains cut-off from the rest of India during winters due to heavy snowfall.”
From both the reporting, it’s clear that what the Modi government claimed to have approved on Friday was already approved by the Manmohan Singh government four years ago.
It’s in this context that the I&B Minister’s tweet became even more controversial on the microblogging site.