On the morning of 12 November 2023, an Uttarakhand tunnel collapse with about 40 workers inside it. It was a portion of the tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway in Uttarakhand. The tunnel was under-construction.
The 4,531-meter-long Silkyara tunnel is part of the Chardham project of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
Updates about the Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse
According to the NHIDCL duty roster, there are about 40 workers stuck inside the tunnel. Coming at the number of workers, 15 are from Jharkhand, eight are from Uttar Pradesh, five are from Odisha, four are from Bihar, three are from West Bengal, one is from Himachal Pradesh, and two each from Uttarakhand and Assam.
The rescue operation is vigorously going on. According to the information from the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), rescue teams were immediately rushed to the spot after the incident at 5:30 am on 13 November. They drilled a pipe through the debris, through which they sent a walkie-talkie to the trapped workers, so that they could contact them.
According to the reports, there are 75 police personnel, 25 fire services personnel, one platoon of PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary), 25 personnel from the SDRF, 35 from the NDRF, and 25 from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The teams are running against time in the chilly weather conditions to ensure that every worker trapped inside the tunnel is evacuated safely.
In rescue operations, loose earth soil is continuously removed and concrete or mortar is sprayed with either a dry or wet mix process to push through a 900-mm diameter steel pipe to evacuate the workforce.
So far, the rescue teams have made little headway in cutting down the rocks that fell over a 200-meter area, trapping the workers inside the tunnel.
Rescuers are trying to create an escape passage to reach the trapped workers and the distance is about 40 meters. Officials said around 21 meters of slab blocking the tunnel has been removed and a 19-metre passage is yet to be cleared.
The present mishappening has led to the formation of a six-member expert committee to investigate the Uttarakhand tunnel collapse.
There may be numerous reasons for the collapse of the tunnel, but we cannot ignore the environmental factor. The Himalayan region has become fragile due to over-exploitation of the land in the hills.
The environmentalist has warned the large construction is dangerous to the environmentally sensitive regions in the Himalayas. The Uttarakhand flood of 2013 due to the bursting of the Chorabari Glacier cannot be forgotten.
Environmentalists like Ravi Chopra have pointed out that harsh practices, such as using dynamite and large drills, cause landslides and tunnel collapses.
For the development of the Himalayan region, ecological concerns are required to be addressed first. Sustainable development demands approaches that are both geologically and ecologically to be considered.
India is dealing with many issues ranging from Uttarakhand tunnel collapse to the high air pollution in Delhi. The government has to take steps careful keeping sustainable development in mind.