DEHRADUN: Following a landslide near the busy Daatkali tunnel, the entry point for the Dehradun valley from Saharanpur, a large chunk of the Delhi-Dehradun highway near the ambitious 180-km expressway project caved in on Friday disrupting traffic on both sides of the existing road and raising fresh questions on the viability of the new elevated stretch on a fragile terrain.

In view of the sensitivity of the stretch, which falls in the Shivalik ecosystem, environmentalists had repeatedly raised red flags against the new expressway project – particularly the 12-km elevated corridor – coming up in the area. Once built, the expressway is expected to significantly cut travel time between Delhi and Dehradun, enabling the journey to be covered in around 3 hours.
However, experts have been raising concern about carrying capacity in light of the massive infrastructure work in the area, and its impact on the existing 250km-long Delhi-Dehradun highway and its ecological surroundings.

Friday’s road collapse, which happened between Daatkali temple and Mohand on the present highway, and led to traffic being impacted for over three hours, has reinforced the concerns expressed by environmentalists. Many have once again reiterated the need to re-evaluate the expressway, which is being built parallel to the highway. They also raised questions on the quality of work happening on the Rs 12,000 crore project. Dehradun-based environmentalist, Reenu Paul said that the ongoing work of the new expressway has damaged the existing highway.
Pankaj Maurya, project director, NHAI, said, “This is a catchment area that is seeing an excess of rain and water flowing from both ends. The incident was a minor one and was addressed immediately. All necessary precautions are being taken and within a year, the new expressway will start functioning.”

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