Was a two-lane option for Silkyara tunnel proposed, approved but discarded?

Another controversy has erupted with experts pointing out that the government had sanctioned a bi-lane tunnel at Silkyara with provision for ‘escape lanes’; but if indeed they were included in the DPR (Detailed Project Report), the plan appeared to have been abandoned since then.

While Nitin Gadkari appeared to defend tunnels in the Himalayan region and spoke of a multiplicity of tunnels being built in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand at a cost of Rs 2.75 lakh crore, he also conceded that there were challenges because of the fragile mountain. Experts were quick to point out that in such conditions, two parallel lanes with lateral escape channels connecting the two are the safest option.

“Twin tube tunnels are easier to construct in weak, unstable rocks, and provide an escape route in the case of fire or other types of accidents in one of the tunnels as the second tunnel remains clear. Both the tunnels are interconnected with lateral passages,” tweeted Alok Kumar Verma, a retired engineer from the Indian Railways.

Activist Anoop Nautiyal also shared a report which seemed to suggest that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had sanctioned the 4,530-metre Silkyara-Barkot tunnel as a ‘bi-lane’ with escape-lanes.

As Sunday drew to a close, it became clear that the stranded workers are unlikely to see daylight till Tuesday at least.

The nation is hopefully praying for their early rescue.

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