In the wake of the Silkyara tunnel tragedy in Uttarakhand, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, accompanied by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami, visited the site on November 19 to oversee ongoing relief efforts for the 41 workers trapped for eight days.
After an on-site evaluation, Gadkari expressed confidence that an advanced drilling machine would significantly accelerate the rescue operation, assuring that the trapped workers could be reached within two days. Emphasizing the top priority of saving lives, Gadkari stated, "Our priority is to save their lives. Work is on war footing."
Gadkari revealed that a permanent solution was being sought with the assistance of state institutions and Swiss agencies. He highlighted the potential of an auger machine, stating, "If worked well, then in the next two days, we can reach out to workers." The minister outlined the use of vertical drilling to physically contact the trapped workers, involving multiple government and private agencies in the massive rescue operation.
In an effort to provide essential supplies to the workers, a six-inch pipe has been installed, initially delivering cashews and pistachios. Gadkari assured an expansion of the food supply to include items like roti sabzi and other necessities through the same pipe.
Addressing the technological aspects of the rescue, Gadkari termed the auger machine as the "best solution" and revealed that drilling had commenced, covering a distance of 42 meters. The plan is to create a space for a pipe that the trapped workers can use for safe evacuation.
In response to inquiries about the incident, Gadkari affirmed that an inquiry committee, formed by the Uttarakhand government, would investigate the root cause of the situation. He conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's concern and expressed confidence that the rescue efforts would succeed.
The Silkyara-Dandalgaon under-construction tunnel has been a focal point since the Diwali day landslide that trapped 41 laborers. Oxygen supply through a pipe has been established, and multiple agencies, including NDRF, SDRF, BRO, NHIDCL, and ITBP, have joined the rescue mission. Workers inside the tunnel have communicated their plea for swift rescue, citing challenging conditions.
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