The fate of the 41 workers trapped in the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand still remains uncertain. Meanwhile, the government has assured that they are taking steps on priority basis to rescue the trapped workers as soon as possible. With over 170 hours passed, workers are provided with medicines along with other supplies to cope with the possible trauma of being trapped in the tunnel.
After visiting the site on Sunday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari assured that the government is doing “whatever is required to save the trapped workers.” “Keeping the morale of workers and their family members high should be everyone's collective responsibility,” said Gadkari.
The minister for road transport and highways was accompanied by Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami.
While addressing a press conference after the visit, Gadkari said that the rescue operation is very challenging. “It is soft at some places and hard at other places which makes any mechanical operation difficult,” he said.
Though horizontal drilling with the American auger is the quickest method in the circumstances to reach the trapped workers, the technical snag developed during the drilling on Friday delayed the operations. Now, preparations are ongoing to start vertical drilling.
"American auger was working alright when it was drilling through soft soil. It faced some problems after it encountered some hard obstacle that led to the machine applying greater pressure and creating vibrations following which it was stopped for safety reasons," Gadkari was quoted by PTI.
He also added that the trapped workers are being provided oxygen, electricity, food, water and medicines.
An alternative larger-diametre pipeline apart from the existing one has been inserted up to 42 metres through rubble so that food like vegetables, roti could be supplied apart from light food.
Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain said multivitamins, antidepressants and dry fruits are being provided to the workers trapped.
While giving an update on the rescue operations, Jain in a brief video, said there is water and electricity in two km portion inside the tunnel.
"Fortunately, there is light inside because the electricity is on. There is a pipeline, and thus water is available. There is a 4-inch pipe, which was used for compression. Through that, we are sending food from day 1," he said.
"We are sending multivitamins, antidepressants and dry fruits to workers who have been trapped inside the under-construction tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarkashi," Jain added.
The tunnel is being constructed under the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).
Gadkari also said that experts from different fields have been pooled in to suggest whatever methods can be applied to ensure the safe and early evacuation of the trapped workers.
(With agencies inputs)