Dehradun, May 19: A massive landslide was reported on Friday in Uttarakhand’s Vishnuprayag region, which lies on the Badrinath route. Nearly 15,000 tourists were stranded in the landslide, triggered due to the incessant rainfall in Chamoli district over the past few days. According to reports, the landslide occurred at Hathi Pahar, near Vishnuprayag, which led to the closedown of Badrinath highway.

The rockslide from Hathi Pahar reportedly began in the afternoon at nearly 3:30 PM, which compelled state authorities to prevent tourists and pilgrims from moving ahead on the Badrinath route. Due to the fall of boulders, a portion of highway was subsequently damaged, forcing the authorities to temporarily close down the route.

Nearly 500 vehicles are stranded on either side of the Badrinath route. According to reports, some of the pilgrims have been provided shelter at the adjoining Joshimath, Chamoli and Pipalkoti, whereas, others are currently in their vehicles at the highway.

District Collector Ashish Joshi said the Badrinath highway could be turned operational only by tomorrow afternoon. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) personnel are actively engaged in the repair work, he told news agency ANI. The Collector also informed that women and children, among the stranded passengers, would be taken to Govindghat gurudwara in Chamoli to rest till the highway is opened for traffic.

Earlier in the month, a plea was heard by the National Green Tribunal, seeking immediate intervention of the environmental body in the ‘chardham highway’ project in the state. The petition, filed by Birendra Singh Mathura and others, said the debris of road construction were being dumped at nearby vegetation and river basins, which would destabilise the land. The destabilisation of land, would in turn lead to numerous landslides, the petitioners claimed.

The Char Dham highway widening project is expected to cost Rs 12,000 crore to the exchequer. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone on December 27, 2016. The project is aimed to facilitate smooth travel in the 321 km route covering the famous Himalayan shrines – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath.

Uttarakhand, prone to earth falls, witnessed the most disastrous landslide in Kedarnath and Badrinath in 2013. More than 11,000 people were killed in the tragic incident.

Environmental experts have raised concern over massive infrastructure activities in Uttarakhand which could increase the number of landslides in the state. A study of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 2013, pointed out that deforestation for infrastructural purpose was the cause of nearly 37 landslides between Dharasu and Gangotri regions.