Tihri : 14 February, 2016

Residents of more than 450 villages near Tehri dam are angry over the closure of the 200-meter-long concrete passage running over the dam's top and demanded access to it. Villagers claimed that due to closure of the passage, they have to take a long detour of over 9 km to reach the other end of the sprawling Tehri lake.

The passage is located at the last point of the lake from near Koti colony. The abrupt closure has forced villagers to drive over 9 km to reach the other side, which otherwise is just a five-minute drive.
Earlier, the villagers had access to the passage till 6 pm. On Saturday, it was shut down completely. Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) officials were unavailable to explain the reason for the shutdown.

Speaking with TOI, Tehri zila panchayat president Sona Sajwan said, "It is disheartening for the thousands of villagers who gave their land for building the dam for are being allowed access to the passage to cross over Tehri lake to reach the other end. The matter was taken up while interacting with the minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday but nothing has been done."

A local, Harish Negi, said: "The detour is dangerous and it goes through the slide zone. This entire road stretch is damaged and it takes more than 40 minutes just to reach the point, at the other end of the dam top passage."

Negi said the villagers were allowed to drive two wheelers and cars to reach other side of the dam and the passage was a lifeline connecting the region to adjoining districts. "The passage saves everyone from the wretched road starting from Bhagirathi Puram onwards. Ideally, locals should be allowed to use the passage till 8 pm," said Raghubir Bisht, another local.

Meanwhile, the district administration officials are unwilling to intervene in the matter. "There have been incidents of drunken brawls and shady people assembling on the passage and even picking up fights with security personnel. The decision on timing will be taken after consulting all the stake holders," said a senior district administration official. Since the dam figures in the list of vital installation, the passage has CRPF personnel deployment to check every movement of the traffic on the passage. TOI

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