Rescue teams may reach the 41 workers stuck inside an Uttarakhand tunnel for over 170 hours in the next two days if the auger machine drilling into the debris block works properly, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said today.
Mr Gadkari and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami today visited the site of the tunnel collapse that has left 41 lives hanging by the thread. A part of the under-construction tunnel to connect Uttarkashi and Yamunotri collapsed last Sunday after a landslide, trapping the workers. This tunnel is part of the centre’s ambitious Char Dham project.
Over the past week, repeated attempts to rescue the workers have failed owing to several challenges, including the topography and the nature of rocks in the area. The workers are being provided food, water and oxygen supply as rescue teams work overtime for a breakthrough.
Speaking to the media, Mr Gadkari said the priority is to keep the workers alive. “If the auger machine works properly, we will be able to reach them in the next 2-2.5 days. Roads are being made by BRO (Border Roads Organisition) to bring in special machines. Several machines have arrived here. Two auger machines are currently working to carry out rescue operations,” he said.
The minister said several machines have arrived at the spot and two are currently working to rescue the workers.
Chief Minister Dhami told news agency ANI that his government to ready to provide help to the rescue agencies. “Saving everyone’s life is our first priority. For this, the state government is ready to give all the help required to all the agencies. I will pray to God that they get rescued sooner, as their trouble is increasing with each passing day,” he said.
Teams from multiple agencies are at the spot for the challenging rescue operation. These include officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). “The experts agree that instead of working on one plan, we should work simultaneously on five plans to reach the trapped workers at the earliest,” said Bhaskar Khulbe, former advisor to the Prime Minister.
Mr Khulbe said the workers are likely to be rescued in four-five days. “But if the gods are kind enough, it could happen even earlier than that,” he said.