After visiting the scene of the collapsed Uttarkashi tunnel on Sunday, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari expressed his optimism that rescue teams will be able to reach the trapped workers inside the tunnel within the next two to two and a half days.
Along with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Mr. Gadkari arrived at the accident scene early and conducted lengthy talks with the rescue teams about the steps that have been done so far to free the 41 workers who have been imprisoned within the tunnel for the last week. (Image) “We will be able to reach the stranded workers in two to two and a half days if the auger machine works properly,” Mr. Gadkari said after the meeting while addressing the reporters at the tunnel site. “We are worried about the people who are stuck in the tunnel.
In order to save them, we are conferring with experts from the US, Switzerland, and other nations, Mr. Gadkari said, adding that private tunnel specialists employed by various organizations in the area have also been enlisted. Meanwhile, the whole plan to free the trapped workers has been redesigned, according to authorities involved in the rescue operation. The 41 lives that have been imprisoned within the tunnel for more than seven days are now the subject of a five-point plan. Drilling for escape routes will be done from five angles.
Mahmood Ahmed, the joint secretary for Union Road Transport and Highways, will oversee the updated plan. The state government will assist five central agencies in spearheading the rescue effort, as per the updated action plan. Concurrent excavation and drilling operations will be conducted from four directions: the top of the tunnel, both ends of the tunnel, and the left and right directions.
The Central government PSUs National Highways and Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NHIDCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Tehri Hydropower Development Corporation (THDC), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) are among the agencies involved in the updated rescue plan.
In addition to them, the Indian Army’s construction division and the Border Road Organization (BRO) have also been involved in the rescue attempt as the Center has stepped up its operations on all fronts.
Anshu Manish Khalko, the director of NHIDCL, has advised that a study of the land around the tunnel under construction has been conducted in order to investigate the feasibility of drilling from the designated five directions. A 170-meter drilling project from two sides will aid in the evacuation of trapped personnel, while over 100 meters of vertical drilling will be done from the top of the tunnel to facilitate the workers’ access to food supplies.
In addition, the tunnel’s extremities from Silkyara and Polgaom (toward Uttarkashi) village directions will see the digging of escape passages. The MD of NHIDCL, Mahmood Ahmed, will oversee operations at Silkyara, while the Uttarakhand government’s nodal officer will be Dr. Neeraj Khairwal.
Following a visit on Saturday by a PMO team consisting of senior geologist Varun Adhikari, PMO deputy secretary Mangesh Ghildiyal, and former prime minister Narendra Modi adviser Bhaskar Khulbe, the decision was reached to modify the rescue attempts.
Early on November 12, the Uttarkashi Yamunotri national highway’s under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon collapsed, trapping 41 workers within.