Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said rescue of the trapped workers is the priority of the Centre and Uttarakhand government and added if the auger machines function properly, they will be able to reach victims within two-and-half days.
Nitin Gadkari and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the partially-collapsed tunnel site to review rescue operations on Sunday. The under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi collapsed on November 12 and over 40 workers got trapped in the tunnel. Food, water and oxygen are being supplied to the trapped workers. The chief minister and union minister held discussions with officials regarding rescue operations. The centre has entrusted different agencies with specific alternatives to work on. "NHIDCL, ONGC, SJVNL, THDC and RVNL have been assigned one option each. The BRO and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been assisting in the rescue operation," an official said.
Gadkari said it is the priority of the Uttarakhand government and Centre to bring the trapped workers out as early as possible. Gadkari said two-hour-long discussions were held with concerned officers and they are working on six alternate options. “For the last 7-8 days, we are trying everything possible to rescue the victims. Different agencies of the Centre are working here. Special attention is being given from the PMO as well. Tunnel experts and BRO officials have also been called. Our first priority is to provide food, medicine and oxygen to the stranded victims,” ANI quoted the minister as saying.
"The first priority of this operation is to keep the victims alive. Roads are being made by BRO to bring special machines. Several machines have arrived here. Two auger machines are currently working to carry out rescue operations. The strata of this Himalayan terrain are complicated," Gadkari added. The union minister said, "If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach them (victims) in the next 2-2.5 days."
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 labourers have been trapped since Sunday morning at the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel where rescue operations have been on hold since Friday.
“Different agencies have been assigned the task of working on one alternative option each. The BRO and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been assisting in the rescue operation," an official said.
-with agency inputs.