Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited on Sunday the family of Pushkar Singh Airi, a worker from Tanakpur who has been trapped in the Silkyara tunnel for the last 15 days. The efforts to rescue the 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel on the Uttarkashi-Yamnotri road are still underway.
Speaking on the ongoing rescue operations, CM Dhami said that the auger machine cutting that got stuck in the debris of the Silkyara tunnel to rescue the workers is underway and will be completed soon. He said that manual drilling would begin after the auger machine was cut and brought out.
“The plasma machine that has been brought from Hyderabad has started working since this morning. The cutting is going on rapidly. 14 metres more remain (to be cut),” he said. “The auger machine has to be cut and brought out. It seems that it will be completed soon, within a few more hours. After that, manual drilling will begin,” CM Dhami added.
A plasma cutter machine was flown from Hyderabad to cut the auger machine early this morning. Also, the Indian Air Force earlier today said that it flew in ‘critical DRDO equipment’ to Dehradun to accelerate the ongoing rescue operation.
A protection umbrella is being laid inside the Silkyara tunnel to put up protection for the rescue team, official sources said. Apart from that, as part of efforts to provide assurance to 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel and relieve their stress, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has stepped in to provide them with a landline through which they can talk to their families.
Kundan, a BSNL official, said they are in the process of sending a small landline phone to the stranded workers through the pipe. “Through this, they will be able to talk directly to their families,” he said.
After a portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside the under-construction structure.