The successful evacuation of the 41 trapped workers from the SilkyaraBarkot tunnel has made the entire country proud of everyone involved in the rescue operation.
Union minister for road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, who visited the site of the collapsed Uttarkashi tunnel on Sunday, said he hoped rescue teams will reach the workers trapped inside the tunnel in the next two to twoand-a-half days.
Mr Gadkari reached the mishap site in the morning along with Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and held marathon meetings with rescue teams on the actions taken so far to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel for the past week. (photo) “If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach the stranded workers in two to two amd a half days,” Mr Gadkari said, speaking to the media at the tunnel site after the meeting. “We are concerned for those trapped inside the tunnel…
We are consulting with experts from US, Switzerland and other countries for their rescue, Mr Gadkari said, adding that private tunnel experts working for different organisations in the region have also been roped in. According to officials engaged in the rescue work, meanwhile, the entire exercise to rescue the trapped workers has been revised. Now the focus is on a five-point strategy to save the 41 lives trapped inside the tunnel for more than seven days. Escape passage drilling will be taken up from five sides.
Union Road Transport and Highways Joint secretary Mahmood Ahmed will lead the revised plan. According to the new action plan, the rescue operation will be taken up by five central agencies with support from the state government. Drilling and excavation works will go on simultaneously from four sides including both ends of the tunnel, top of the tunnel as well as left and right directions.
Agencies roped in for the renewed rescue plan include Central government PSUs National Highways and Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NHIDCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Tehri Hydropower Development Corporation(THDC) and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).
Apart from them, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been roped in the rescue operation as the Centre renewed its efforts on all fronts.
NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalko informed that a survey of the area surrounding the under construction tunnel has been done to explore the possibilities of drilling from the earmarked five directions. Nearly 100 metres vertical drilling will be taken up from top of the tunnel to smoothen food supplies path for the workers while 170 metres drilling from two sides will help evacuate trapped workers.
Besides this, drilling of escape passage will be taken up at both extremes of the tunnel from Silkyara and Polgaom (towards Uttarkashi) village directions. Mahmood Ahmed, who is also MD, NHIDCL, will head the operation at Silkyara while Dr Neeraj Khairwal will be nodal officer for the Uttarakhand government.
The decision to revise rescue efforts was taken after a visit of PMO team made up of Mahmood Ahmed, PMO Deputy secretary Mangesh Ghildiyal, former advisor of prime minister Narendra Modi Bhaskar Khulbe, along with two geological experts including senior geologist Varun Adhikari on Saturday.
The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the UttarkashiYamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of 12 November, trapping a total of 41 workers inside.