Fact-check: BJP’s Tom Vadakkan sees Modi’s vision in fake news zooming through Kerala road tunnel at 684 kmph!

The wild claim has surprised both commuters as well as netizens. BJP leader Tom Vadakkan who endorsed the claim, too, is at the receiving end.

BySreerag PS

Published Jun 27, 2023 | 1:10 PM Updated Jun 27, 2023 | 3:07 PM

Fact-check: BJP’s Tom Vadakkan sees Modi’s vision in fake news zooming through Kerala road tunnel at 684 kmph!

Around 115 kilometres in 10 minutes! That, according to BJP leader Tom Vadakkan, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a new India.

Vadakkan retweeted a claim that the Kuthiran Tunnel, Kerala’s first road tunnel, has reduced the travelling time between Thrissur and Coimbatore. The distance could be covered in 10 minutes, the tweet, posted by the handle, Chandramouli1, claimed.

The original tweet also complained that no media house has reported the achievement that has drastically slashed the normal two-hour journey. Coimbatore could be reached in 10 minutes from Thrissur, the tweet said.

Chandramouli1 later corrected the tweet saying, “Fake news.” Vadakkan, however, has not corrected himself. With roots in Kerala, he should have known better.

The original tweet went viral on Monday, 26 June. The claim has surprised commuters and netizens alike.

Several people retweeted the claim, mostly unaware of the distance between the two cities in as many states. Coimbatore is about 114 km from Thrissur, and if one has to cover the distance in 10 minutes, s/he should touch an average speed of 684 kmph!

Incidentally, most commercial airlines fly at an average speed of 500-600 kmph, though some can touch 800 kmph or even more. The record for hitting the highest speed of 372.5 kmph in a Formula-1 race belongs to Finnish Valtteri Bottas. He touched the highest speed in the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.

The twin tunnel, constructed in 2021, has reduced the distance on the winding Kuthiran stretch to 1.6 km from 3 km. However, the project has decongested the Kuthiran hill, which earlier used to see massive traffic blocks. A similar tweet was put out by BJP Gujarat General Secretary Ratnakar in 2021.

Also read: Fact-checking cell in Karnataka to curb fake news

Modi’s vision, says Vadakkan

Vadakkan’s tweet received severe criticism from netizens, many of them calling out the veteran leader for sharing fake news.

“This tunnel, known as Kuthiran Tunnel in Kerala, reduced the distance in Kuthiran stretch from 3 km to 1.5 km.1.5 KILOMETRE. And guess who shared this fake news,” tweeted Advaith, a left-leaning activist, sharing the image of Vadakkan’s tweet.

“This guy — who has now dug up an old, discredited ‘news item’ and is using it to suck up to Modi — used to be head of the BJP in Kerala. Should give you an idea of why the BJP is a distant number three in that state,” senior journalist Prem Panicker tweeted.

A Twitter user took a dig at the veteran leader, saying defecting from the Congress to BJP may be possible in 10 minutes but not covering the distance between Thrissur and Coimbatore.

Vadakkan, who was the national spokesperson of the Congress, jumped ship to join the saffron party in 2020.

Also read: Malayalam film Hridayam’s ‘parotta-beef scene’ sparks a Twitter spat

Commuters refute claims

Ashish Kumar, a physical education instructor at a private college in Palakkad, commutes daily from Thrissur. He could not hide his astonishment.

“I don’t know which tunnel these people are talking about. I have taken that route before and after the Kuthiran tunnel was inaugurated. Although the traffic has been decongested, I don’t think that tunnel allows someone to drive 100 km in a matter of minutes,” Kumar told South First.

Maymon, a resident of Thrissur, used to travel to his hometown from Bengaluru, where he had been working until recently.

“How can a 1.5-kilometre tunnel significantly decrease the travel time required for covering 114 km? A person who can apply logic can easily understand that one cannot travel that distance in 10 minutes. I think the tunnel saves a maximum time of up to five-10 minutes,” he told South First.

PIB statement

The Press Information Bureau issued a media statement on 1 August 2021 after the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari instructed the opening of one tunnel.

“This is the first road tunnel in the state and will drastically improve connectivity to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The 1.6-km long tunnel is designed through the Peechi-Vazahani wildlife sanctuary. The road will improve connectivity to important ports and towns in the north–south Corridor without endangering wildlife,” it read.