New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) The Union government on Saturday held a high-level meeting to discuss various options to rescue the 41 workers trapped inside a partially collapsed tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarakhand, with different agencies assigned with specific alternatives to work on, sources said.
Based on technical advice, five rescue options were explored at the meeting.
"NHIDCL, ONGC, SJVNL, THDC and RVNL have been assigned one option each. The BRO and the construction wing of the Indian Army have also been assisting in the rescue operation," an official said.
National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) MD Mahmood Ahmed has been made in-charge for coordination with all the central agencies and has been stationed at Silkyara, the sources said.
The Uttarakhand government has made Neeraj Khairwal, a secretary-level officer, as the nodal officer for coordination. The sources said all the agencies concerned have posted senior officers at the site and the government has given a clear direction that whatever is possible be done for the rescue operation.
After the incident on November 12, the Centre and the state mobilised resources immediately, they said, adding that senior officials from different agencies, including NDRF, SDRF, NHIDCL, RVNL, SJVNL and state government, reached the spot immediately. It was decided to lay a pipe through the debris as it was the best and fastest possible solution according to experts' advice. However, after an initial attempt to lay a pipe with an auger (drilling) machine available with the UK Jal Nigam, it was decided to get a bigger American-made auger machine, which was airlifted from Delhi by the Indian Air Force, they said. Another auger Machine was airlifted from Indore. However, on November 17, there was a sound of earth movement and the sensors corroborated it. It became unsafe to continue with this option without securing the structure, according to the sources.
Considering the lives involved, it was decided to move on all possible fronts together so that the workers can be rescued as early as possible, they said.
With time running out, officials on Saturday began preparations to drill a vertical hole from the top of the hill under which 41 workers have been trapped inside a collapsed tunnel for seven days with limited food and communication.
The Silkyara tunnel, about 30 km from the district headquarters of Uttarkashi and a seven-hour drive from the Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is part of the ambitious Char Dham all-weather road project of the central government. PTI KR ANB ANB