Uttarkashi: As rescue operations continue for eight days to save the 40 trapped workers at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, Secretary, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways Anurag Jain announced on Sunday the decision to take up a five-option action plan. The government has taken a decision to work on all fronts to save the precious lives of the labourers trapped in the tunnel at Silkyara, Jain told ANI.
“The government has taken a decision to work on all fronts to save the precious lives of the labourers trapped in the tunnel at Silkyara. In a high-level meeting today, various options were examined based on technical advice and 5 options are to be pursued,” he added. “In addition to these 5 options, a couple of additional pipes for redundancy of food support would also be put up,” he added.
According to Anurag Jain, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDC) and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) have been assigned one option each.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been assisting in the rescue operation, he said. Jain further said that the Managing Director of NHIDCL has been made in charge of coordination with all the Central agencies and has been stationed in Silkyara.
“The government of Uttarakhand has appointed Dr Neeraj Khairwal, Secretary, as the Nodal Officer for coordination. All the agencies concerned have posted senior officers at the site,” he informed further. The centre has given clear directions that whatever is possible must be done for the rescue operation, Jain added.
He further said, “Along with these 5 options, there is an action plan. We are working on the declared unsafe areas where we were working and stopped later due to movement on earth. We will make a canopy and restart the work with all the security measures.” Meanwhile, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the scene to review the ongoing rescue and relief operation. They were accompanied by Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu at Silkyara.
Speaking to ANI about the ongoing relief and rescue operations, CM Dhami said, “We are working on all the possibilities available. All types of expert teams are working here.”
CM Dhami said that the state government is ready to provide all the help required to the agencies involved in the rescue operation. The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12.
Earlier in the morning, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari visited the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse site and said he expects the rescuers will be able to reach the victims who are trapped inside it in another two to two-and-a-half days. “If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach them (victims) in the next 2 to 2.5 days,” Gadkari told the reporters from the tunnel site.
Minister Gadkari apprised that those private tunnel experts working for various organisations in the region have also been roped in for the rescue efforts. Food, medicine, and oxygen were being provided to those trapped inside through pipes. Work is on for another alternate supply line in case of any exigencies that may arise in the first line.
“There is light and ample space inside the tunnel and the victims are able to move around; the communication line is on,” Gadkari told reporters, adding their morale was high.
Stating that the geology and terrain in the Himalayas are very difficult, the efforts to rescue the workers are on a war footing. Notably, the rescue efforts have now entered eighth day.
Further, the Union Minister urged people not to draw any early conclusions about the incident. “Early diagnosis of anything is not advisable. We are going into the details and investigating it. Please cooperate with us to keep the morale of the victims high.”
“It will take some time to find out what the technical reasons are, and we are honestly working on that,” Gadkari added. The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12.