Uttarakhand, positioned in northern India, is commonly known as the “Devbhumi” or ‘Land of the Gods’ due to its profound religious significance, marked by numerous Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites scattered across the state. The region is celebrated for its diverse natural landscapes, including the Himalayas, the Bhabar, and the Terai regions. Uttarakhand shares borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north, the Sudurpashchim Province of Nepal to the east, and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, and Himachal Pradesh to the west and northwest. The state is administratively divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, encompassing a total of 13 districts. Dehradun, serving as the winter capital and the largest city, holds significant importance as a railhead in the region. On March 5, 2020, Bhararisain, situated in the Gairsain Tehsil of the Chamoli district, was designated as the summer capital of Uttarakhand. The state’s High Court is currently situated in Nainital, with future plans for relocation to Haldwani.
Ongoing efforts are in progress to rescue 40 workers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand. Trucks loaded with pipes have arrived to aid in the drilling and insertion of metal pipes, creating a pathway for the trapped workers. Following the tunnel accident in Uttarkashi, the Uttarakhand government has established a six-member expert committee to conduct an investigation. The collapse occurred in the early hours of November 12, affecting a segment of the under-construction tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway between Silkyara and Dandalgaon. Plans are underway to prepare a platform for an auger machine to horizontally drill and insert large 900 mm diameter MS pipes into the debris, providing a means for the workers’ evacuation through these pipes. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami conducted an on-site inspection and confirmed arrangements to dispatch large-diameter hume pipes from Haridwar and Dehradun for the rescue operation.
Leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw have expressed concern and monitored the situation. The Superintendent of Police in Uttarkashi has indicated that the rescue work might conclude by Tuesday. Continuous communication is maintained with the trapped workers, and assurances of an extensive rescue operation have positively impacted their morale. NHIDCL Executive Director Col (retd.) Sandip Sudehra reported progress in clearing over 20 meters of debris out of a total of 60 meters, expressing optimism about evacuating the trapped individuals by Tuesday night. The Silkyara Tunnel, with a length of 4531 meters and a construction cost of ₹853.79 crore, is under development by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).