As 41 workers have been trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand for over a week, the Centre yesterday said it has finalised a five-option action plan to rescue them.
Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain said five separate agencies would work on these alternatives which involve drilling from three sides to access the trapped workers. “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), Satluj 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.
The Five Options
1. Vertical drilling by the Satluj Jail Vidyut Nigam from the top of the tunnel to rescue the trapped labourers.
2. The Rail Vikas Nigam has started commenced work on another vertical pipeline for essential supplies after the Border Roads Organisation completed an approach road in just a day.
3. The ONGC, having expertise with deep drilling expertise, has started work on vertical drilling from another end.
4 . The National Highways and Infrastructure Development body will continue to drill from the main Silkyara end after working out the safety arrangements. To facilitate this, the Army has prepared the box culvert. A canopy framework is being made to ensure workers’ safety.
5. The Tehri Hydro Development Corporation will work on micro tunnelling, for which heavy machinery has already been mobilised.
Race To Rescue Trapped Workers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and assured him all support in the ongoing operation to rescue the trapped workers.
The Prime Minister said that the workers’ morale needs to be maintained, the Chief Minister’s office said.
It has been an agonising wait for the families keeping vigil outside the tunnel. The voices of the labourers are getting weaker, their strength seemingly dimming, family members said after speaking to some of them.
The workers are being provided food, water and oxygen supply as rescue teams work overtime in the hope of a breakthrough.
Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Pushkar Singh Dhami yesterday visited the site of the tunnel collapse. Mr Gadkari said the priority was 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.