In Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue, Government Finalizes 5-Option Action Plan to Save Trapped Workers
New Delhi/Dehradun: As 41 workers continue to remain trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand for over a week, the government has announced that it has finalized a five-option action plan to rescue them.
Anurag Jain, Transport and Highways Secretary, stated that five separate agencies will be working on these alternatives, which involve drilling operations from three sides. “The government has made the decision to work on all fronts in order to save these precious lives,” he said.
This decision was made during a high-level meeting where various options were examined based on expert advice.
“Five options were decided upon and five different agencies have been assigned responsibilities to carry out these options. The agencies involved are 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),” Jain explained.
He also mentioned that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the construction wing of the Indian Army have been assisting in the rescue operation.
The five alternatives being explored are:
1. SJVNL is conducting vertical drilling from the top of the tunnel to rescue the trapped workers.
2. ONGC, known for its expertise in deep drilling, has also begun initial work for vertical drilling from the Barkot end.
3. NHIDCL will continue drilling from the Silkyara end after ensuring safety arrangements. The Army has prepared a box culvert to facilitate this, and a canopy framework is being constructed to ensure the safety of the workers.
4. THDC will be working on micro tunneling from Barkot, for which heavy machinery has already been mobilized.
The race to rescue the trapped workers has been a harrowing wait for their families, who are keeping vigil outside the tunnel. Family members reported that their voices are growing weaker, and their strength seems to be diminishing.
Meanwhile, rescue teams are working tirelessly, providing the workers with food, water, and oxygen supply in the hopes of making a breakthrough.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the site of the tunnel collapse yesterday. Gadkari emphasized that the priority is to keep the workers alive. He stated, “If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach them in the next 2-2.5 days. Roads are being constructed by the BRO to bring in special machines.”
Doctors have also stressed the need for comprehensive rehabilitation for the trapped workers, as the prolonged confinement may require both mental and physical recovery processes.
The 41 workers have been trapped since last Sunday when a portion of the tunnel collapsed. Officials have assured that all workers are safe and are being supplied with 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, an initiative to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.