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Outside Tapovan tunnel, a sister waits: ‘He is all I have’

Officials from central and state departments, meanwhile, said their efforts were geared towards clearing the slush and reaching the men inside the tunnel.

Written by Mallica Joshi | Joshimath |
Updated: February 9, 2021 3:25:44 pm
Uttarakhand flash floodThe site of the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Monday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Sati Negi, 34, slept in on Sunday, something she fears may have robbed her of a chance to speak to her younger brother ever again. Sitting outside the blocked tunnel at NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydel Power Project on Monday, she sobbed quietly in a corner as several senior officials and ministers, including Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, visited the site.

She believes her brother Praminder Bisht is trapped with 34 others inside the 1,900-metre-long tunnel.

“The last I spoke to him was on Saturday night. He said he would finish work on Sunday and head home to Gopeshwar to see his wife, children and our mother. He was supposed to be home for a week and we were all excited. I wasn’t able to speak to him as I slept till late on Sunday and he had already left for work. Where is he now?” Negi said.

It was around 10.30 am on Sunday, when videos started circulating on WhatsApp groups, that she heard of the flood.

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“I immediately left for Tapovan. He is all I have. When I reached around 2 hours later, there were many officers here, but no one was doing anything. It was like they didn’t know what to do,” says the mother of two, whose husband died seven years ago.

She says Bisht has been working at the site for seven years. “He was happy with the job, though he rarely got leave. He has two children, of whom one has a heart condition. What will they do now,” she said.

As the CM reached the spot, Negi shifted from her spot outside the tunnel but later decided to not approach him.

“The officials haven’t been able to help me so far. They have been here since the beginning. People have come here, got photos clicked and gone back, but what about my brother? What about his wife and children? My mother hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday morning. No one is helping us,” Negi said.

Officials from central and state departments, meanwhile, said their efforts were geared towards clearing the slush and reaching the men inside the tunnel.

“Every effort that we can make is being made. We will not leave till we are able to reach the men. We do not know if they are alive but we will not let that come in the way,” said a senior ITBP official, who did not want to be named.

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