Disaster fallout of NTPC tunnelling, says activist | India News – Times of India



JOSHIMATH: Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra, who was in Joshimath on Thursday said that “there is adequate reason to believe that what we are witnessing today in Joshimath is a result of the tunnelling exercise conducted by NTPC”.
Chopra headed the ministry of environment-appointed expert committee on the role of hydroelectric projects in the 2013 flash floods disaster, and was also chairperson of the Supreme Court panel on the Char Dham all-weather road project. Speaking at a press conference, he said that a scientific paper, ‘Change in hydraulic prope rties of rock mass due to tunnelling’, published by international researchers in 2015, had disclosed that the repeated bursting and trapping of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) for construction of a 12. 1-km tunnel from Helang to Tapovan in Uttarakhand had led to cracks in the area.
The paper mentioned that in December 2009, during the construction work of the NTPC project, the TBM got stuck, “causing wa ter leaks with an initial flow rate reaching 700 litres per second”. The work was called off after the incident but was restarted after 10 months. The TBM got stuck again twice — in February and October 2012 — in the same 20-metre-wide fault zone at a depth of around 700 metres.
“Going by the facts mentioned in the r esearch paper, the water speed during the three TBM trapping incidents, whi ch caused cracks, must have been less than the in-flow speed during the flash-flood that occurred in nearby Raini village on February 7, 2021,” Chopra said.
He added, “In the Raini incident, the water in the tunnel must have come with ‘extreme pressure’, leading to the widening of existing cracks and formation of fresh cracks. Therefore, there is adequate reason to believe that what we are witnessing today is a result of the tunnelling exercise conducted by NTPC. ”
Meanwhile, officials overseeing hydropower projects continued to maintain that there is “no role” of the NTPC project in the Joshimath situation.





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