There’s no light at the end of this tunnel ReadingS


Local politicians point out that when they were informed that most of these workers came from outside the state (only two were from Uttarakhand), the central government claimed that it would provide large-scale employment to local youth when the Char Dham yatra was launched. It is clear that this is not the case.

Engineering geologist Varun Adhikari says: “The collapse at Silkyara is a classic example of unprofessional tunneling practices and neglect of basic tunneling principles. Moreover, considering the particular conditions of the tunnel and the potential consequences on the surrounding rock mass, the use of hydraulic hammers or small blasting in particular should be considered.” “It highlights the importance of maintaining diligence in adhering to appropriate procedures during re-profiling and use.”

Dr CP Rajendran, a scientist specializing in earthquake geology and tectonics, is equally puzzled. “No SOP (standard operating procedure) was being followed here which would lead to serious consequences. Previously, such excavations in the mountains were carried out under the supervision of expert geologists, followed by continuous tunneling, among other precautionary measures. “Why were no safety norms or inspection orders issued by the authorities even after the tunnel collapse in 2019?”

The answer is not difficult to find. The tunnel construction was being overseen by DSCL (DCM Shriram Consolidated Limited) along with the National Highways Authority of India, which in turn handed over the work to Navyug Construction Company, which in turn handed it over to another company that clearly did not have sufficient knowledge. The expertise to undertake such a project.

Poor geological understanding of the natural composition of rocks in the region and non-compliance with legislation are a lethal combination. Widespread use of explosives triggers landslides, while cost constraints (such as they are) jeopardize regulations (such as they are). Environmental Impact Assessment has been removed from the entire Char Dham project and people in the area are paying for it with their lives.

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