Union minister Nitin Gadkari and Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached Uttarkashi on Sunday to review the operation to rescue 40 workers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel. The rescue authorities are building an access road to the top of the hill above the Silkyara tunnel. They will initiate vertical drilling from there to reach the workers, who have been trapped inside the tunnel for seven days.
All the workers are safe. On Sunday morning, the authorities supplied food and other essentials to the workers via large diameter pipes through the debris.
Gadkari told the media that the authorities have employed several strategies to drill inside the tunnel perpendicularly.
“The priority in the entire operation is to save the lives of the workers. Multiple strategies have been employed including vertical and perpendicular drilling. The CM and I have taken the presentation and reports of the ongoing rescue efforts,” he said, after reviewing rescue efforts.
The Border Roads Organisation started building the approach road on Saturday evening. According to the news agency PTI, senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office are present in Silkyara to oversee the operation.
The tunnel is part of the ambitious Char Dham road project by the central government. The workers have been trapped since last Sunday when the tunnel partially collapsed.
The construction wing of the Army and the BRO have been assisting the authorities in the rescue operation.
Dhami says ‘trouble is increasing’
Dhami told ANI on Sunday: “Saving everyone’s life is our first priority… For this, the state government is ready to give all the help required to all the agencies… I will pray to God that they get rescued sooner, as their trouble is increasing with each passing day”.
The rescue workers were trying to drill horizontally. On Saturday, they decided to attempt the vertical approach as well.
“A spot right above the tunnel has been identified and marked. A hole will be drilled from there to reach there. The depth of the hole would be approximately 300-350 feet… The horizontal attempt of rescue would also begin from Barkot end of the tunnel,” Uttarkashi DFO DP Baluni told ANI.
Antidepressants, Vitamins sent to trapped workers
Anurag Jain, secretary, Ministry of Road and Transport, told the news agency that the authorities have been sending in vitamin tablets as well as antidepressants, along with food and water.
“As sunlight is not reaching there, we are sending Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and antidepressants as doctors suggested. These people have been working in the tunnel for a long time, so there is no disappointment among them, and they are looking forward to coming out. It will take some time, but we will eventually get them out,” he said.
He said there is water and electricity in the portion of the tunnel the workers are trapped in. He said the authorities are sending dry fruits through a pipeline.