Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India]: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reviewing the rescue operation to evacuate 40 workers trapped inside the collapsed under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi.
‘We are in regular contact with the trapped them. All the arrangements for them are being made there. Everyone is safe. Work was done by the NHIDCL and the tunnel was on the verge of completion, and just 400 metres were left… Now we will review it all… PM Modi is reviewing the rescue operation and is continuously in contact with all of us,’ Dhami told media.
The tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12.
Dhami said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured of all possible assistance.
The chief minister said that the main priority was to evacuate all 40 workers trapped in the tunnel.
Earlier today, Union Minister and former Army chief General VK Singh visited the site and took stock of the rescue operation.
‘The rescue operation is underway; we have full hope. We are trying our best,’ Singh said.
The Chief Minister this morning also held a review meeting with senior officials at the state secretariat.
Colonel Deepak Patil who is leading the rescue efforts of the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) said, ‘Union Minister (General VK Singh (Retd) was here and he talked to the labourers. He assured them, and those labourers responded and they liked it.’
He said that drilling work has resumed and rescue operations are now moving at a fast pace. ‘Machine has drilled around 3 meters in half an hour but we cannot give you an exact time as speed the could further increase or decrease.’
Colonel Patil said that they have considered a third option for which ‘equipment and machinery is already on wheels.’
However, he was optimistic that there was a high chance of the success of plan B.
Detailing the drilling process further, Colonel Patil said they were using the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) which combines a drill and blast techniqe.
‘The primary thought process behind this method is to monitor the deformations as you go in. More the deformations, more caution use more rock bolts and use more primary support,’ he said.
According to sources, after the rescue operation, the workers will be taken to Rishikesh AIIMS for treatment.
‘The installation work of the machines airlifted from Delhi has been done and the rescue operation work is underway,’ Anshu Manish Khulko, NHIDCL Tunnel Project Director, told media.
Dharam Singh, father of one of the labourers trapped inside, said that his son is also trapped inside the tunnel, adding that he spoke to his son and gave him courage.
‘My 20-year-old son Vijay Kumar is trapped inside the tunnel. I spoke to my son for a little while and I gave him courage and assured him that everything would be fine and he would be brought out by this evening. Food and water are being provided to him in small quantities,’ Dharam Singh said.
Officials of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited are confident of completing the rescue operation successfully today.
‘We have the support of the administration… We will succeed in this (rescue process). The machine is 99.99 per cent installed. I want to inform everyone not to get misled… Everyone is fine; they don’t need medical help. But still, the medical team is here…’ NHIDCL PRO Girdharilaal said.
A portion of the tunnel that is being constructed between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway collapsed in the early hours of Sunday following a landslide, trapping 40 workers inside.