Community Support and Prayers Pour In as Uttarakhand Unites in Hope for Trapped Labourers
36 labourers found themselves trapped inside a 4.5km under-construction mountain tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The incident occurred early on Sunday morning when a landslide blocked their exit, leaving them stranded deep within the tunnel. The tunnel, a crucial component of the all-weather road project for the Char Dham pilgrimage, lies between the villages of Silkyara and Dandalgaon.
Senior police officials assured the public that, as of now, no casualties had been reported, and rescue teams were diligently working to ensure the safe evacuation of all trapped labourers. However, the process might extend beyond a day due to the challenges posed by clearing the debris.
Director-General of Police, Ashok Kumar, stated in a press conference held in Dehradun on Sunday morning, “The National Disaster Response Force and other agencies are on the spot, but it may take more than a day to clear the debris. Rescue teams are blowing oxygen into the tunnel with the help of pipes.”
The incident took place around 5 am, approximately 200 meters inside the tunnel towards Silkyara village. The labourers, who were working 2,800 meters inside the tunnel, had entered the structure after 11 pm on Saturday with the plan to exit at 8 am on Sunday.
Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) A.P. Anshuman provided an update in the afternoon, reiterating that no deaths had been reported so far. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami expressed his concern, stating, “I am in touch with the officers on the spot. We pray to God for the safety of all the workers.”
The Rs 1,119-crore project, approved by the Union road transport and highways ministry in February 2018, aimed to complete construction within four years. Last month, Chief Minister Dhami announced a revised completion date of March 2024, highlighting that the tunnel would ultimately reduce road travel between Uttarkashi and Yamunotri by 20 km. The incident underscores the inherent challenges of such large-scale infrastructure projects in the region, emphasizing the need for robust safety measures and swift response in times of crisis.