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Government begins work on five options for rescue of labourers trapped in Silkiyara tunnel

On Sunday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari after visiting the tunnel site, stated that the area where the workers are trapped measures 8.5 meters in height and extends for 2 kilometers. DEHRADUN: More than a week after the Silkiyara tunnel collapse incident in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district, relief and rescue agencies have been directed by the Centre and the Uttarakhand government to work together on a new formula of five-point options. After visiting the Silkiyara tunnel accident site on Sunday morning, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said, "We are working on five alternative options and various agencies of the Government of India are working here, special attention is also being paid by the PMO." Tunnel experts and Border Road Organisation (BRO) officials have also been called in. Providing food, medicine, and oxygen to the stranded victims is the first priority. In the new development, now the help of foreign experts is being taken to rescue 41 labourers trapped in the tunnel. On Saturday, engineering expert Armando Capelan and micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper also reached the spot to help with the rescue work. On Sunday, Union Minister Gadkari after visiting the tunnel site, stated that the area where the workers are trapped measures 8.5 meters in height and extends for 2 kilometers. This section of the tunnel has been reinforced with concrete to ensure safety for the labourers, and it is equipped with electricity and water. Later Gadkari also met the families of the workers trapped in the tunnel and assured that the government is engaged in the rescue operation with full strength and determination. Additionally, Road Transport and Highways Ministry Secretary Anurag Jain briefed the media on a new scheme involving five agencies — Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCL) — which have been entrusted with specific responsibilities. The government spokesperson said, "ONGC, which specializes in deep drilling, has initiated preliminary work for vertical drilling from the Barkot end". Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) will be conducting vertical drilling to rescue the trapped labourers in the tunnel. The necessary equipment, weighing 75 tonnes, has been mobilized from Gujarat and Odisha via Railways, as it was not feasible to airlift such heavy machinery. A spokesperson said, "THDC will start micro-tunnelling work from Badkot end late Sunday night. NHIDCL will continue to drill from the Silkiyara end after the security arrangements, and the Army has prepared the box culvert to facilitate this". "RVNL has started working on another vertical pipeline for the supply of essential commodities. The BRO completed the construction of an access road in just one day", the spokesperson said. On the strong demand of the villagers along with technology, faith and state-of-the-art foreign machines to rescue the 41 labourers trapped in the tunnel, experts and engineers have set up a temple of Bauknag Devta outside the tunnel. Earlier this temple was removed and installed in the inner corner of the tunnel. On Saturday, a special puja was also performed and the deity's idol was installed in the temple. Actually, Baba "Baukhnag Devta" is worshipped in the Silkyara region. Others, including Praveen Jayada and Dhanpal Singh of the area, said that when the company started constructing the tunnel, it had promised to set up a temple of Baba Boukhanag near the tunnel, but did not do so later. Villagers believe that this accident has happened due to the anger of the deity. "The condition inside the tunnel is not good," said Mrityunjay Kumar, a loader operator working in the tunnel. Mrityunjay alleges that not much work has been done to bring out the trapped labourers for a week. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)