As 41 workers remain trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand for over a week, the Centre said it has finalised a five-option action plan to rescue them.
Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain said five separate agencies will work on these alternatives which involve drilling operations from three sides. “The government has taken a decision to work on all fronts to save the precious lives,” he said.
The decision was taken in a high-level meeting where various options were examined based on experts’ advice.
” Five options were decided and five different agencies were detailed to carry out these options. Five agencies namely Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited(RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCL) have been assigned responsibilities,” he said.
Mr Jain said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been assisting in the rescue operation.
Centre Explores Five Alternatives
1. SJVNL is doing the vertical drilling from the top of the tunnel to rescue the trapped labourers.
2. RVNL has commenced work on another vertical pipeline for the supply of essential items after the completion of an approach road by the Border Roads Organisation in just one day.
3. ONGC, having expertise in deep drilling, has also started the initial work for vertical drilling from Barkot end.
4 . NHIDCL will continue to drill from Silkyara end after working safety arrangements. To facilitate this, the Army has prepared the box culvert. A canopy framework is being made to ensure workers’ safety.
5. THDC will work on micro tunnelling from Barkot for which heavy machinery has already been mobilised.
Race To Rescue Trapped Workers
It has been an agonising wait for the families keeping vigil outside the tunnel. Their voices are getting weaker, their strength seemingly dimming, family members said after speaking to some of the workers.
The workers are being provided food, water and oxygen supply as rescue teams work overtime for a breakthrough.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami yesterday visited the site of the tunnel collapse. Mr Gadkari said the priority is to keep the workers alive. “If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach them in the next 2-2.5 days. Roads are being made by BRO (Border Roads Organisition) to bring in special machines.
Doctors have also emphasised the need for comprehensive rehabilitation for the trapped workers, fearing that the prolonged confinement may necessitate both mental and physical recovery processes.
The 41 workers have been stuck since last Sunday after a portion of the tunnel caved in. Officials said that all workers are safe and are being supplied food and water through steel pipes that have been drilled into the opening.
The under-construction tunnel is part of the ambitious Char Dham project, a national infrastructure initiative to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.