NEW DELHI: Construc­tion has resumed on an Indian tunnel that collapsed last year, trapping 41 workers for 17 days — with at least one of those men back on the job.

Manik Talukdar, a worker from West Bengal who was among those trapped in the under-construction Silkyara road tunnel, told the Times of India he was “on my way back” to his underground job.

“It was a fateful thing, but that doesn’t mean we should stop working out of fear,” he told the paper.

Most of the trapped men were migrant workers who travelled hundreds of kilometres from home to work on the tunnel in northern Uttarakhand state, high in the bitterly cold Himalayan foothills.

The men survived in the tunnel following the Nov 12 collapse with the help of a narrow tube through which air, food and water were delivered as they waited.

But Talukdar shrugged off fears of another collapse. “We are aware of the risks involved in our job,” he said.

After repeated setbacks in the rescue operation, including falling debris, fears of further cave-ins and drilling machine breakdowns, military engineers and skilled miners dug the final section by hand using a so-called rat-hole technique.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2024

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