24 Nov 2023

Uttarakhand Tunnel Rescue: Rescuers very close to trapped laborers; concerns arise regarding company responsible for tunnel's construction

The 41 laborers are still trapped in the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, although their families and the rescue team had heaved a sigh of relief when a contact was established with them. All workers are safe. 

Excavation in its final stages

Arrangements have been made to provide them food and water. They are expected to be taken out soon. Rescue is being done by ordering necessary machines. Many obstacles are also coming. But the excavation in the tunnel is now in its final stages.

Even when Diwali was being celebrated across the country, laborers were being made to work in this tunnel. During this time the tunnel caved in and was filled with debris. Initially it was claimed that the workers would come out within a day or two and everyone would be evacuated, but even after 13 days, the workers are forced to remain trapped in the tunnel. 

Somehow, medicines and some food items etc. are being supplied to the workers. However, amidst the long struggle, many such questions are also being raised, to which perhaps no one has the answer. 

Normal tunneling methods not suitable for hilly areas were used

In fact, the highway and infrastructure company NHIDCL, which is building the tunnel, kept using the normal tunneling methods without considering that landslides can occur anytime in the hilly areas of Uttarakhand. Wherever a tunnel is excavated, the nature of the ground is first studied.


Risk of land subsidence remains in the hilly state

The condition of the mountains of Uttarakhand is not hidden from anyone. Now after the tunnel collapse, technical aspects are also being discussed. Fingers have been raised on the negligence of the company for not making necessary studies and security arrangements. 

Some people are also raising questions about the absence of a thick layer of cement that should have been laid to prevent external pressure and the pipe should have been laid in advance for the safety of the workers. It is expected that people associated with this project will learn a lesson from this incident and try to prevent any such incident in future.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force on Friday conducted a rehearsal of how it would take its wheeled stretchers through the chute being prepared to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel.

An NDRF personnel went through the passage, pushing a wheeled stretcher tied to a rope at the end of the tunnel and was pulled back up after completing the stretch.

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