TAPOVAN(UTTARAKHAND): “Bring back my brother, even if dead. I will pay you Rs 8 lakh,” erupted Sundar Silwal, when told by an official that he will get Rs 4 lakh as compensation if his 28-year-old brother, who is among those trapped in the tunnel at Tapovan Hydropower Project, died.
Dozens of locals gathered at the site on Friday afternoon, agitated at the delay in rescue. The locals were stopped by police at around 200 meters from the tunnel. It’s been six days and some are losing hope of seeing their kin alive. “Ab pata nahi bache bhi honge ya nahi (God knows whether they are even alive or not?)” said Suraj Rao.
Angry at the delay, family members of those trapped alleged that the National Thermal Power Corporation authorities were not doing enough. “What will the army do until provided right technical assistance by NTPC?” said Rita Pant, whose brother is stuck inside.
The locals had angry exchanges with officials throughout the day and police detained at least seven persons, who were released later. Trying to pacify the people, R P Ahirwar, project manager of the hydel power plant, said no effort was being spared.
“I urge you all to understand that we are doing everything to save the men who are trapped but there are limitations. We cannot use 10 machines as you are suggesting.” Officials took a few locals near the tunnel to show them the rescue efforts, after which the gathering started to disperse.