Joshimath's aftermath: Helang-Marwari bypass work connecting Badrinath awaits IIT Roorkee's report

Work on the bypass, considered important from the point of view of Badrinath Yatra and strategic importance, has come to a standstill since the Joshimath land submergence disaster.

Published: 25th March 2023 09:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2023 09:44 PM   |  A+A-


January 2023: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami interacts with residents while inspecting the landslide-affected area of Joshimath in Chamoli district. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

DEHRADUN: The construction of the Helang-Marwari bypass is in limbo. Reason: The submission of the technical investigation report of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee is still pending.

Work on the bypass, considered important from the point of view of Badrinath Yatra and strategic importance, has come to a standstill since the Joshimath land submergence disaster.

The government will take a call on whether or not to go ahead with the construction work of the Helang bypass after examining the report to be submitted by IIT Roorkee.

Once the construction of the Helang-bypass on the Badrinath Highway is completed, it will benefit the pilgrims and tourists visiting Chardham Yatra, Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers. It will also help the movement of the army in the areas bordering China. 

According to experts, "With the construction of this bypass, the distance for pilgrims to and from Badrinath Dham will come down by 28 kilometers. Also, villagers of Pandukeshwar, Govindghat and Mana villages will be saved from tedious long journeys to reach their destinations. Pilgrims and tourists visiting Auli, Narsingh Temple and Niti Ghati can go from Joshimath Nagar".

According to administrative sources, "The construction of about six km bypass in the foothills of Joshimath was approved by the central government in the year 2021 under the All-Weather Road Project. The responsibility of construction of the bypass was entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO)".

Meanwhile, while the work of cutting about three kilometers of rock from Helang and about one kilometer from Marwari end has been completed, bypass construction work has been stalled since January 5 due to land submergence in Joshimath.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Additional Secretary (Disaster Management) Dr Anand Srivastava said, "We are waiting for the expert report on the Helang-Marwari bypass from IIT Roorkee, after which further decision will be taken. "Though IIT Roorkee had recently submitted a report, it has been asked to submit the report again due to factual error," added Dr. Shrivastava.

Srivastava noted that experts from IIT Roorkee have to make it clear whether the commencement of bypass construction work will affect the land submergence-affected area in Joshimath.  "In fact, IIT Roorkee has submitted that the bypass construction will not be affected due to the submergence of the land. But IIT Roorkee has been asked to re-submit the report as it was not "logical".

The project has faced obstacles for the last 33 years due to one reason or the other. Lately, there is the hope of building this bypass once again. In 1988-89, the UP government had given approval to the irrigation department to build the Helang-Marwari bypass considering the China border area. The road-cutting work was then started by the BRO but the locals started opposing the bypass. "The negative impact on tourism and pilgrimage activities in Joshimath was argued". In 1991, locals approached the Allahabad High Court in this matter and got it stayed. 

In 2021, the central government again gave its approval for the construction of Helang Bypass under the All weather road project work, but now its construction has stopped again due to the Joshimath land disaster.


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