Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: PM Modi speaks to CM Dhami on rescue efforts, says need to maintain trapped workers' morale

Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: PM Modi speaks to CM Dhami on rescue efforts, says need to maintain trapped workers' morale

Nov 20, 2023 - 12:30
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Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: PM Modi speaks to CM Dhami on rescue efforts, says need to maintain trapped workers' morale

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and discussed the ongoing operation to rescue 41 workers trapped since 12 November in a partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district.

During the telephonic conversation, PM Modi said necessary rescue equipment and resources are being provided by the Centre and through mutual coordination between Central and state agencies and expressed hope that the trapped workers will be safely evacuated.

PM Modi told the Uttarakhand chief minister that it is necessary to maintain the morale of the trapped workers.

According to a statement issued by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Office, Dhami told PM Modi that he has inspected the site and is constantly monitoring the rescue operations.

All efforts are underway to evacuate the workers expeditiously, the chief minister told PM Modi.

Dhami also briefed the Prime Minister about the rescue operations in detail and said all the trapped workers are safe with oxygen, nutritious food and water being constantly supplied to them.

All agencies are working in full coordination with each other in consultation with experts to carry out the rescue operations.

This is the third time that PM Modi has spoken to Uttarakhand CM Dhami about the rescue operations being carried out at the tunnel.

5-point plan to rescue trapped workers in Uttarkashi

On Sunday (19 November), a new five-point plan was made to rescue the trapped workers.

A vertical drilling operation will be taking place from the top of the hill under which the workers are trapped. The efforts to drill horizontally through the debris blocking the tunnel at the Silkyara side will continue, and an operation to drill a small tunnel from the Barkot side will also begin, according to the plans.

As per the details provided by the government, five different agencies – the 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) – have been assigned responsibilities to carry out the five different aspects of the rescue plan.

Under the five-point plan, RVNL has started work on a six-inch-wide vertical pipeline from this platform into the place where the workers are trapped. This pipe will work as another means by which supplies can be passed to them.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has created an access road to, and built a platform at, the top of the hill where vertical drilling is set to take place.

The third part of the plan involves horizontally drilling 483 metres to reach the workers by creating a “micro” tunnel from the Barkot side and will be undertaken by THDCL. Heavy machinery has already been mobilised and the work is expected to start by Sunday night.

The fourth part is the strengthening of the existing tunnel, and after working on safety arrangements, NHIDCL will continue to drill from the Silkyara end under the fifth part of the plan.

Rescue operations are being carried out on a war footing since portions of the tunnel collapsed following a landslide early on 12 November, leaving 41 workers trapped behind a huge mound of debris.

The Silkyara tunnel, about 30 km from the district headquarters of Uttarkashi and a seven-hour drive from the Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is part of the ambitious Char Dham all-weather road project of the central government.

With inputs from agencies

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