17 Days, 41 Workers Rescued: Deciphering The Lessons Learnt From The Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse


(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) The collapse of Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarakhand had sparked an urgent rescue mission aimed at reaching 41 trapped construction workers. With this, the Indian government has swiftly moved to prevent similar incidents in the future. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for overseeing tunnel construction, received a mandate to inspect all ongoing tunnel projects across the country.

This comprehensive safety audit encompasses 29 tunnels nationwide, examining projects in the Himalayan states like Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as those in Uttarakhand, where the recent collapse occurred, and other regions.

Who is Arnold Dix, the tunnelling expert India saluted after 41 workers were rescued from Silkyara tunnel?

This incident has raised concerns about safety measures, notably the absence of emergency exits in the Silkyara Tunnel. Rescuers faced additional challenges amidst malfunctioning equipment and potentially unstable terrain.

However, the collapse served as a reminder of broader issues in the Himalayas, particularly the repercussions of poorly planned development on the region's vulnerability to disasters. Uttarakhand is frequently besieged by landslides, earthquakes, and floods, underscoring the geological instability of the mountainous area.

Authorities suspect the collapse might have been triggered by a concealed weak section of rock, further emphasizing the unpredictable nature of the Himalayan landscape.

The Silkyara Tunnel, situated on the Char Dham pilgrimage route, forms a crucial segment of an ambitious project initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. This project aims to link significant Hindu pilgrimage sites through an 890-kilometer network of all-weather roads, designed to connect Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath.

'Bharat Mata Ki Jai': India cheers safe evacuation of 41 workers from Silkyara tunnel after 17 days (WATCH)

Critics argue that unchecked development aggravates the region's fragility in the face of climate change. Rampant construction, hydropower projects, and inadequate drainage systems have heightened environmental risks, leading to disasters like the recent tunnel collapse and numerous others throughout the Himalayas this year.

Environmentalists highlight the lack of proper environmental impact assessments for the Char Dham project, emphasizing the bypassing of mandated evaluations, despite its monumental scope.

Glacial melting in the Himalayas poses a looming threat of floods and landslides, prompting the Supreme Court to appoint a committee to evaluate and mitigate potential environmental and social impacts of the expansive project.

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