40 labourers feared trapped
At least 40 labourers are feared trapped inside a tunnel under construction at Parvati Hydel Project and property worth Rs 50 crore has been damaged in flashfloods following a cloudburst in Tebla hills of Manikaran valley, about 65 km from Kullu, in the wee hours of Sunday. However, the officials are putting the number of trapped labourers at 20.
According to eyewitnesses, the water level started rising suddenly in the Jagrai Nallah, a tributary of Parvati river, around midnight and silt piled up outside the Head Race Tunnel (HRT) to block the lone entry point. Heavy machinery and trucks were damaged in the incident, severely hitting the construction work at the project.
The workers, who are trapped inside the tunnel, had been employed by C.Linga Reddy, a contractor of Patel Engineering engaged for construction work at the project. Thought the fate of the employees trapped in the 1300-metre-long tunnel is not known yet, the company officials said there was sufficient oxygen in the tunnel.
The district administration officials had rushed to the spot immediately and rescue work was going on till late in the night. Jawans of ITBP, Home Guards and excavators had been pressed into service to rescue the trapped labourers.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner R.D. Nazeen, who was present at the site, said most of the labourers trapped inside the tunnel belonged to Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. He said silt was blocking the HRT completely and two excavators have been pressed into service to clear the silt.
The DC said as the river had changed course due to the flashflood and the water level had gone up by six metres, even the road had been damaged. He said machinery worth Rs 20 crore was damaged, which was confirmed by the construction company.
The administration has released the list of persons trapped inside the tunnel, of which two are from Himachal.
Meanwhile, M.M Patel, the vice-president of the Patel Engineering Company executing the work of Parbati Hydel power project at Barsheni, said the company had suffered losses of property worth Rs 30 crore in the flash flood that wreaked havoc in Manikaran valley.