Uttarakhand, November 15, 2023: In a tragic turn of events, a construction site in Uttarakhand became the focal point of a rescue operation, with 40 workers trapped following a landslide since the early hours of Sunday.
According to sources, the workers are receiving oxygen, water, light food, and medicines through a pipe. The process of inserting large-diameter mild steel pipes through rubble using an auger machine to rescue the trapped workers was initiated on Tuesday. These pipes are intended to create an escape passage for the workers.
Protests have erupted near the rescue site as the operation entered its fourth day. Rescue endeavours were hindered on Tuesday evening due to a fresh landslide, further prolonging the ordeal for those stranded inside. As per the revised plan, authorities are flying in new equipment from New Delhi to assist in the operations.
“Under plan 2, we are first installing a 125 mm [millimeter] pipe for air, food, camera, and communication,” said Bhupendra Singh, the deputy general manager of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited. “That pipe is already 12 meters in. Also, state-of-the-art, American-made horizontal dry drilling equipment with an auger is on its way on two Hercules C-130 planes. The planes will make a total of three rounds to carry the equipment.”
Fifty to sixty men were working a night shift in the 4.5-kilometer (3-mile) tunnel, built on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, meant to connect Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, when it collapsed. The Silkyara Tunnel, located on Yamnotri Road, is part of the Char Dham all-weather road project, an initiative of the center.
Contact is being maintained with the trapped laborers, and the assurance that a substantial rescue operation is underway by various agencies to evacuate them has boosted their morale, NHIDCL Executive Director Col. (retired) Sandip Sudehra said. According to a list of the trapped workers issued by the District Emergency Operation Centre, 15 are from Jharkhand, eight from Uttar Pradesh, five from Orissa, four from Bihar, three from West Bengal, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam, and one from Himachal Pradesh.
The Himachal government has formed a six-member committee to investigate the cause. As the rescue operation continues, the entire nation watches with bated breath, hoping for a successful and swift recovery of all trapped workers and a thorough investigation to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Edited by: Sri Soudamini Konka
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