The Indian government has launched a comprehensive five-option action plan to rescue the 41 workers who have been trapped in the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi since November 12. In a video briefing on Sunday, Road, Transport, and Highways Secretary Anurag Jain provided an update on the ongoing rescue operations, emphasising the government’s commitment to ensuring the safe rescue of all the laborers.
Jain detailed the five-pronged approach, assigning responsibilities to five different agencies for a coordinated effort. The agencies involved are 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).
Jain outlined the progress made by various agencies in the rescue efforts. RVNL initiated work on a vertical pipeline for essential item supply, and THDC commenced micro-tunneling from the Barkot end, deploying heavy machinery for the operation. SJVNL is responsible for vertical drilling to reach the trapped laborers, while ONGC, known for deep drilling expertise, initiated preliminary work on vertical drilling from the Barkot end.
The Union government conducted a high-level meeting on Saturday, discussing five rescue options and assigning specific responsibilities to different agencies. NHIDCL MD Mahmood Ahmed has been designated as the coordinator for central agencies involved in the operation.
Jain assured continuous communication with the trapped workers, acknowledging the challenging conditions within the 8.5-meter-high and 2 km-long built-up portion of the tunnel. NHIDCL is creating an additional 6-inch pipeline for food delivery, with drilling progress aimed at facilitating the delivery of more essential items.
The government remains resolute in its commitment to rescuing the trapped laborers safely, and efforts are underway to maintain the morale of those inside the tunnel.