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Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Whatever Is Required To Save Trapped Workers Will Be Done, Assures Nitin Gadkari
Gadkari was at the site reviewing the rescue operations at the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel.
Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Even as rescue operations are underway to retrieve the workers from the under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday assured that “whatever is required to save the 41 trapped workers will be done and keeping the morale of workers and their family members high should be everyone’s collective responsibility.” Gadkari was at the site reviewing the rescue operations at the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel. He was accompanied by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami who said the rescue operation is challenging as the soil strata in the Himalayan region is not uniform.
“It is soft at some places and hard at other places which makes any mechanical operation difficult,” said Dhami while Gadkari said that horizontal drilling with the American auger is the quickest method in the given circumstances to reach the trapped workers.
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“American auger was working all right 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,” he said at a press conference in Silkyara.
“We are working on six options simultaneously. The PMO is also closely monitoring the operation. Our biggest priority is to save all those who are trapped and as soon as possible. Whatever is needed will be done,” he said adding that whichever machine or technical assistance is required will be provided.
“Keeping up the morale of the trapped workers and their family members should be everyone’s collective responsibility at the moment,” he said.
He said the trapped workers are being constantly provided oxygen, electricity, food, water, and medicines.
Apart from one pipeline through which they were supplied food earlier, an alternative larger-diametre pipeline has also been inserted up to 42 metres through the rubble so that food like roti, vegetables, and rice apart from light food could also be supplied to them, said Gadkari.
Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain also said that multivitamins, antidepressants, and dry fruits are being provided to the 41 workers trapped for the past seven days.
“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.
In a video brief update on the rescue operation, Jain further said there are water and electricity in the two km portion inside the tunnel, which is the finished part of the 4.531-kilometre two-lane bi-directional tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarkashi.
Experts from different fields have been pooled in and asked to suggest whatever methods can be applied to ensure the safe and early evacuation of the trapped workers, Gadkari said adding that preparations are on to start vertical drilling through the hill above the tunnel and every possible method is being tried for their speedy evacuation.
Forty-one workers are trapped inside the under-construction Silkyara tunnel after a part of its structure collapsed late evening on Saturday, 11 November. Eight days later, concerns and actions for the overall safety and successful rescue of the 41 workers are getting more momentum.
(With PTI inputs)