Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
HomeFact checkViralImage Of California’s Tom Lantos Tunnels Shared As ‘Atal Tunnel’ By Media...

Image Of California’s Tom Lantos Tunnels Shared As ‘Atal Tunnel’ By Media Outlets And Online Users

A Twitter user shared an image of a tunnel congratulating PM Narendra Modi for building the world’s longest highway tunnel—Atal Tunnel. The tweet further states that the tunnel will serve an important purpose of protecting India’s borders, while also reducing distance between Manali and Leh by 4-5 hours. 

With over 1K likes,  Adesh Gupta’s (@adeshguptabjp) tweet in Hindi reads, “पीएम श्री @narendramodi जी को दुनिया की सबसे लंबी राजमार्ग सुरंग ‘अटल सुरंग’ के लिए बधाई। यह सुरंग हमारे देश की सीमाओं की रक्षा करने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाएगी। मनाली और लेह के बीच की दूरी भी 4 से 5 घंटे कम हो जाएगी जिससे अर्थव्यवस्था और पर्यटन क्षेत्र को बढ़ावा मिलेगा।”

This translates to, “Congratulations to PM Shri @narendramodi Ji for ‘Atal Tunnel’, the world’s longest highway tunnel. This tunnel will play an important role in protecting the borders of our country. The distance between Manali and Leh will also be reduced by 4 to 5 hours which will give a boost to the economy and tourism sector.”

Other users have shared similar claims as well. 

Media organisations including News18 and IndiaTimes have also used the image in context in their articles about the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang. 

Fact Check/ Verification 

The Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh is said to be the world’s longest highway tunnel. Set at an altitude above 3000 metres, the 9.02km underpass is named after the late former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

On 3 October, PM Modi inaugurated the Atal Tunnel calling it a “game changing infrastructure project that will help several citizens” as well as provide economic benefits for the agricultural and tourism sectors.

The tunnel reduces the distance between Manali and Lahaul-Spiti valley by 46km and time by four to five hours. 

ANI tweets about the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Himachal Pradesh CM Jairam Thakur visiting the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang ahead of PM Modi’s visit. The entrance of the tunnel can be clearly seen in the tweet’s photographs below.

Devil’s Slide Tunnels In California

A reverse image search of the photograph in context led us to a 2012 blog post titled, “Inside the devil’s slide tunnel” which includes different images of the tunnel. 

Next, through a keyword search on Google we found a video published by HNTBcorp, an architecture and engineering firm, in April 2013. The video’s description reads, 

“HNTB’s Devil’s Slide Tunnels project grand opening and ribbon cutting featuring both the South and North portals and drive through as well as a brief shot of the ribbon cutting and celebration. Tunnels are located along famed Highway 1 on California’s coastline just minutes south of San Francisco…”

The tunnel’s image from the initial claim is similar to the Devil’s Slide Tunnels shown in the above video. 

Left: Image from the claim; Right: Image of Tom Lantos Tunnels from HNTB’s Youtube video

In another video, HNTB’s Nasri Munfah, “discusses the firm’s contributions to the design and completion of the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide near San Francisco.” 

A report by Caltrans: California Department of Transportation details the twin tunnels. “In 2013, Caltrans opened the new Devil’s Slide twin tunnels and bridges on a section of State Route 1, about 15 miles south of San Francisco. The area was notorious for road closures due to slides.”

Image of Tom Lantos Tunnels in a report by Caltrans: California Department of Transportation
Image of Tom Lantos Tunnels in a report by Caltrans: California Department of Transportation

Conclusion 

The photograph in Adesh Gupta’s tweet as well as News18 and IndiaTimes is not of the Atal Tunnel in Rohtang. It is in fact the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide near San Francisco, California. However, the description of Atal Tunnel in Gupta’s tweet is true. 

Result: Misplaced Context

Our Sources

The Hindu: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-modi-inaugurates-atal-tunnel-at-rohtang/article32757824.ece

Indian PM Narendra Modi:  https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/1312397856469213186

Asian News International: https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1311965122689073152?s=20

HNTB’s Devil’s Slide Tunnels project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YSy40BSwsU&feature=youtu.be

HNTB’s Nasri Munfah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPUeq19l8G0

Caltrans: California Department of Transportation: https://dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/programs/risk-strategic-management/documents/mm-2014-q1-a11y.pdf



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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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