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Months after tunnel collapse, workers back on Silkyara-Barkot project site

Two months after a harrowing incident left 41 workers trapped for 17 days inside the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel, signs of normalcy are reemerging at the project site. With the Centre granting permission to resume work last week, the focus now shifts to recovery and improvement efforts

Months after tunnel collapse, workers back on Silkyara-Barkot project site
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First Published Jan 30, 2024, 9:27 AM IST

Life is gradually returning to normal at the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel project site, two months after the dramatic rescue of 41 workers who were trapped inside for 17 days. Rescued workers are slowly returning to the site as the road transport and highways ministry granted permission to resume work last week, according to multiple media reports.

The collapse occurred closer to the Silkyara side, a crucial element of the larger Char Dham project. Officials stated that work from the Silkyara side would recommence only after implementing necessary remedial measures. These measures are expected to strengthen the area affected by the collapse, ensuring its resilience to future tunnelling activities.

The project, overseen by the state-owned National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), is contracted to Hyderabad-based Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd (NECL). Despite the recent setback, the NHIDCL has been resolute in its commitment to restarting tunneling operations.

Manik Talukdar, one of the rescued workers, expressed his determination to return to Silkyara. He told the Times of India, "It was a fateful thing, but that doesn't mean we should stop working out of fear. We are aware of the risks involved in our job, and both our company and the government supported us during those difficult times. Now, it is our turn to return the favour and complete the project." Deepak Shrivastav, another worker, highlighted the improved safety measures in the tunnel, encouraging his co-workers to return.

Media reports have cited sources indicating a heightened focus on safety measures at both ends of the tunnel by the NHIDCL. Efforts are being directed towards creating escape passages and implementing enhancements to ensure the security and well-being of the workers.

A six-member expert committee, appointed by the Uttarakhand government, is determining the cause of the collapse. While the committee is yet to submit its report, a member acknowledged negligence in the construction zone's shear zone, emphasizing the importance of proper support measures and real-time monitoring to prevent such incidents.

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