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Uttarakhand: Tunnel Being Built on Yamunotri NH Partially Collapses, 36 Workers Trapped

The tunnel is part of the Rs 12,000 crore Char Dham all-weather road project that has been termed a ‘freeway to disaster’ by experts.
tunnel under construction

Uttarkashi: Rescue operation underway after a portion of a tunnel under construction between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed, in Uttarkashi district, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand): Around 36 workers were fear trapped after a portion of an under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Yamunotri national highway (NH) collapsed on Sunday morning.

The tunnel is part of the ambitious Char Dham all-weather road project. The incident occurred between 6 a.m and 7 a.m.

Reports on Monday said that relief and rescue efforts were going on and some trapped workers were being provide food and water through pipes.

According to the District Emergency Operation Centre, the labourers are from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Dredging and drilling through the debris inside the under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon is going on to prepare an escape passage for the trapped labourers, according to the district emergency operation centre.

Police, National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force personnel were carrying out rescue efforts, Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police (SP) Arpan Yaduvanshi told PTI. 

On Monday, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the Silkyara tunnel to take stock of the situation.

As per records made available by officials of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), 36 labourers are trapped inside, he said.

The collapsed portion is located about 200 metres from the entrance of the tunnel, the SP said.

The Char Dham project has often been termed as the “freeway to disaster” by several engineering and environmental experts, who have warned against “catastrophic consequences” for ecology and human lives.

The project aims to reduce the travel distance for pilgrims by 26 kilometers.

This year the hill state has experienced unprecedented landslides and flood fury, leading to close to several deaths, including of pilgrims.

In fact, in the 2021, a Supreme Court- appointed expert committee had directed the Centre to stop construction work on the project to connect four holy shrines, flagging the dangers of hill-cutting and tree-felling to widen the roads.

In recent times, towns like Joshimath and Uttarkashi have also experienced sinking, leading to panic and displacement of local people.

(inputs by PTI)

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