The government has undertaken a five-option action plan to rescue 41 workers trapped at Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, since November 12, Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain said on Sunday, asserting that the Centre is committed to rescuing all the labourers safely.
As rescue operations continued for the eighth day, Mr Jain, in a video brief update on the rescue operation, said that the government is committed to rescuing all the labourers safely and it is sending multivitamins, antidepressants and dried fruits to the workers.
“Five options were decided and five different agencies were detailed to carry out these options. 5 agencies namely Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited(RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCL) have been assigned responsibilities,” he said.
The Silkyara Tunnel, about 30 km from the district headquarters of Uttarkashi and a seven-hour drive from the Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is part of the ambitious Char Dham all-weather road project of the central government.
The tunnel is being constructed under NHIDCL. The tunnel collapsed around 5.30 am last Sunday. The rescue operation was suspended on Friday afternoon when a US-made auger machine deployed to drill and push in pipes through the rubble to prepare an escape passage for the workers developed a snag that exacerbated the anxiety.
Elaborating further, Mr Jain said RVNL has started working on another vertical pipeline for supply of essential items after the Border Roads Organization completed building an approach road in just one day.
Further, Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation (THDC) shall start work of micro tunnelling from Barkot end for which heavy machinery has already been mobilised. THDC shall start the operation tonight itself.
SJVNL will do the vertical drilling to rescue the trapped labourers. Accordingly, equipment has been mobilized from Gujarat and Odisha through Railways as being 75-tonne equipment it could not be airlifted. ONGC, having expertise in deep drilling, has also started the initial work for vertical drilling from Barkot end. “The government is committed to rescuing all the labourers safely. We are sending multivitamins, antidepressants and dry fruits to workers who have been trapped inside the under-construction tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarkashi,” he said.
The Union government also held a high-level meeting on Saturday where five options to rescue the workers were discussed with different agencies assigned with specific alternatives to work on.
NHIDCL MD Mahmood Ahmed has been made the in-charge of coordination with all the central agencies and has been stationed in Silkyara.
Mr Jain said that the government is keeping constant communication and making all efforts to keep up the morale of the labourers trapped inside the tunnel.
“The area in which the workers are trapped is 8.5 metre high and 2 km long. This is the built up portion of the tunnel where concreting work has been done providing safety to the labourers,” he explained. Jain said NHIDCL is creating another 6-inch pipeline for food, and drilling of 39 metre out of 60 metre is completed. “Once this tunnel is ready, it will facilitate delivery of more food item,” he added.
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