Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: Relief for trapped labourers as second lifeline pipe reaches them

"More food items including fruits, eggs etc will be sent to the labourers through the new pipe," said NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalkho.
This additional lifeline pipe will now facilitate the delivery of essential supplies to the labourers awaiting rescue. (Photo | Express)
This additional lifeline pipe will now facilitate the delivery of essential supplies to the labourers awaiting rescue. (Photo | Express)

DEHRADUN: The 41 labourers who have been trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district for nine days got some relief on Monday as engineers succeeded in installing a second six-inch lifeline pipe. Now, through this pipe, more food items can be sent to the labourers.

"All workers inside the tunnel are safe, only roasted chana, salt, medicines, toffee, chocolate, etc. were being sent through the old pipe, but more food items including fruits, eggs etc will be sent to the labourers through the new pipe," National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) Director Anshu Manish Khalkho told reporters. "You can see the relief on my face as a reflection of the success I have had today," Khalkho said.

The NHIDCL team paused drilling with the Auger machine on Monday morning to insert a six-inch lifeline pipe for the trapped labourers. The drilling was briefly halted around 1 pm when a rock obstructed the process, but by 4 pm, the team successfully advanced the 57-metre pipe. This additional lifeline pipe will now facilitate the delivery of essential supplies to the labourers awaiting rescue.

According to a spokesman for the camp office in Silkyara, "A place has been chosen for drilling above the tunnel. It will have a drill of 1.2 metres diameter. The setup is likely to happen in the next 24 hours. Now the drill will be completed in two to three days."

Col Deepak Patil, who is in charge of the rescue and relief operation, told The New Indian Express, "After being suspended for three days, the drilling work resumed on Sunday night. At the same time, the pipes of food and oxygen supply to the labourers trapped inside have been covered with concrete hume pipes. Even if there is a landslide due to some reason, it will not disrupt the supply of food items and oxygen."

Five agencies namely Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Sutlej 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 different responsibilities for evacuation of the stranded labourers.

Furthermore, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami announced that the state government will cover the entire cost of transporting the families of the trapped laborers from the Silkyara tunnel. He also mentioned arrangements for mobile recharge, food, and accommodation for the families.

Sharing information received from experts, Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi told TNIE, "The drilling work has resumed with the Auger machine in the tunnel, sprayed with shotcrete to reduce the risk of landslides. Also, the work of constructing a temporary road for drilling over the tunnel under the backup plan is in the final stages."

PIL in Uttarakhand High Court

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari and Justice Pankaj Purohit, upon hearing a PIL filed by an NGO named 'Samadhan' seeking a solution for early evacuation of labourers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel, took serious note of the matter and directed the state government to file its reply within 48 hours. The next hearing of the case will be on November 22.

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