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Silkyara tunnel rescue operation in last stage; Rescuers draw closer to 41 trapped workers

The Silkyara tunnel rescue operation in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand, has progressed to its final stages as efforts continue to free 41 trapped workers. Since November 12, when debris blocked the under-construction tunnel, rescue teams have faced challenges, including the removal of steel rods obstructing progress.

Silkyara tunnel rescue operation in last stage; Rescuers draw closer to 41 trapped workers
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First Published Nov 23, 2023, 8:41 AM IST

The efforts to rescue 41 trapped workers inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district have entered the last phase. Their ordeal began on November 12, when the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot became blocked by debris, spanning a 60-meter stretch on the Silkyara side. Colonel Deepak Patil, leading the rescue efforts for the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), provided an update on Thursday morning, stating that the task of laying down two pipelines, each approximately 12 meters in length, is yet to be completed. However, a significant breakthrough was achieved when the NDRF team successfully removed steel rods from the debris using a gas cutter, eliminating the obstruction and paving the way for further progress.

To ensure a comprehensive response, a team of 15 doctors has been deployed, and an eight-bed hospital has been set up in the control room. Multiple ambulances and a helicopter are on standby for any emergent requirements.

The preparations extend beyond immediate medical care. A 41-bed hospital has been readied at the Community Health Centre in Chinyalisaur, where the trapped workers will undergo a thorough medical examination and receive necessary care upon evacuation from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi.

The area where the workers are trapped, measuring 8.5 meters in height and spanning 2 kilometres in length, constitutes the built-up portion of the tunnel. This section offers a degree of safety to the labourers, including access to electricity and water supply.

The Silkyara Tunnel Project, approved by the Union Cabinet in February 2018, involves the construction of a 4.531 km two-lane bi-directional tunnel. Part of the Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana and situated along NH-134 in Uttarakhand, the project has an estimated construction period of four years and a projected cost of Rs 1,119.69 crore. With the inclusion of land acquisition and rehabilitation, the total project cost stands at Rs 1,383.78 crore. Despite facing delays, the project is anticipated to be completed by May 14, 2024.

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