November 15, 2023
NEW DELHI – In controversial remarks, a senior official of the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management said the recent tunnel collapse incident on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway will keep happening in the “ongoing large-scale nation building process” and that one has to be prepared for it.
Around 40 workers were trapped after the tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway caved in on Sunday. The 30-metre collapsed section is 270 metres from the mouth of the tunnel from the Silkyara side.
Efforts are on to rescue the trapped workers.
In a statement released on Monday, Uttarakhand State Disaster Management secretary Ranjeet Sinha claimed that incidents like collapse of under construction tunnel on Yamunotri National Highway 94 will keep happening in the ongoing large scale nation building process and “we have to be prepared for it.”
Sinha assured that the workers will be taken out by Wednesday or Thursday.
“It is simple, see the magnitude of the ongoing projects of nation building. Issues like this will keep cropping up in the process of nation building of this scale. We have to remain prepared for it. Good thing is that people are safe and we will rescue them unharmed,” he said.
The senior official took stock of the relief operation and assured that all trapped workers inside the tunnel will be rescued safely maximum by Wednesday as the auger machines will be put on work for creating a passage to reach out to the stranded workers.
“We will rescue them maximum by Wednesday night or by Thursday morning,” he said.
However, experts differed from Sinha’s opinion and said it is unlikely to happen.
“Speed of the horizontal drilling machine supplied by us is almost one meter per hour. How is it possible to create escape passage of nearly 50 meters on unstable loose debris in such a short a span of time? It could not even start till late Tuesday evening,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
Sinha, however, said, “Oxygen available in the tunnel is enough for the workers for four to five days. Besides this, additional oxygen is being pumped in by the rescue teams.”
Oxygen and food supplies are being provided to the workers through a compressor inside the tunnel. SDRF rescue team is also trying to maintain the communication line with the workers, officials added.
According to the details provided by the tunnel construction agency, a central government PSU NHIDCL, 15 of the 40 stranded workers are from Jharkhand, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam, one from Himachal Pradesh, four from Bihar, three from West Bengal, eight from Uttar Pradesh and five are from Odisha.