New Delhi/Dehradun: In what appears to be a race against time, rescue agencies are tirelessly working to extract 41 construction workers trapped for over 170 hours under debris following a partial collapse of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, on November 12. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialled Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and took information about the ongoing relief and rescue operations to save the workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. PM Modi said that necessary rescue equipment and resources are being provided by the Central government. ”The workers will be evacuated safely with mutual coordination between central and state agencies. There is a need to maintain the morale of the stranded workers’,” Uttarakhand CMO said.
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International Tunnelling Expert Called In
Meanwhile, International Tunneling Expert Arnold Dix was called in to aid in the ongoing rescue operation to save all the workers. Dix, the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association president, after conducting an inspection at the tunnel site on Monday, expressed optimism on the prospects of the rescue operation. Professor Arnold Dix specialises in underground and transportation infrastructure – from construction risk to more technical issues associated with actual safety performance from an operational safety perspective.
On the other hand, prayers are also being offered at a temple that has been built at the main entrance of the tunnel where rescue operations to save the stranded victims are underway.
Vertical Drilling Being Considered
Amidst challenges posed by a snagged auger machine, a US-made drill, officials are now considering a groundbreaking vertical drilling strategy. A high-performance drilling machine from Madhya Pradesh’s Indore has been mobilized, initiating the construction of a platform for the vertical drilling operation. The rescue work is likely to take 4-5 days more as efforts to drill a horizontal hole using the American auger machine didn’t yield the desired results. The rescue work had to be stopped following a fresh collapse of a boulder yesterday.
PMO, Experts Mulling 5 Rescue Plans
Simultaneously, a team from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and experts on-site are orchestrating five distinct rescue plans. Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to the Prime Minister, emphasized the urgency, stating, “Working on multiple plans concurrently increases the likelihood of reaching the trapped workers sooner.”
Gadkari, Dhami Review Rescue Ops
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the site to assess the ongoing rescue efforts. Chief Minister Dhami assured, “We are exploring all possibilities, utilizing expert teams to their fullest potential.”
The rescue mission faced setbacks as drilling was halted due to a sudden “cracking sound” from the machine. A high-level meeting at the Centre deliberated on five potential rescue options, assigning specific agencies to execute alternative plans.
Agonizing Wait For Families
Outside the tunnel, families endure an agonizing wait. Voices wane, strength diminishes, and anxiety heightens among family members as the hours tick away. The resentment is growing among them and they now want the government to rescue all those trapped inside the tunnel at the earliest.
Comprehensive Rehabilitation For Trapped Workers
Recognizing the need for comprehensive rehabilitation, doctors are advocating for mental and physical recovery processes for the trapped workers. Anurag Jain, Secretary, the Ministry of Road and Transport, shared, “We are sending vitamin tablets and antidepressants as doctors suggested. It will take time, but we will eventually get them out.”
Multivitamins Being Sent To Workers
As the confined workers face prolonged isolation, authorities are taking measures to address their health. Multivitamins, including Vitamin B and Vitamin C, along with antidepressants, are being sent to sustain the workers in the absence of sunlight.
Char Dham Project
The under-construction tunnel is a crucial part of the Char Dham project, aiming to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. The incident underscores the challenges faced in critical national infrastructure initiatives.