41 Workers rescued after 17 long days in Uttarkashi Tunnel

The multi-agency operation to rescue 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel was finally successful. After 17 long days of hard work by different agencies such as NDRF, SDRF, BPF, etc the workers saw light on Tuesday evening.

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The massive effort, large in its magnitude and ambition, ended an ordeal that lasted 17 days and had the entire government machinery, including the PMO. The evacuation is being pushed with all its might.

A tunnel collapsed in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand trapping 41 workers on 12th November 2023. The Silkyara tunnel, currently under construction, is part of the Uttarakhand Char Dham route.

This project is a component of the all-weather Char-Dham initiative, connecting various Hindu pilgrimage sites. The majority of the trapped workers are migrant laborers from different parts of the country.

Many of their family members are arriving and setting up camps at the accident site, hoping to reunite with their loved ones soon.

Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue operation in real-time

On Tuesday at 7:28 pm the first trapped worker, Vijay Horo got rescued. Vijay was wheeled out on a stretcher by NDRF personnel. The emotions were high at this time as after 17 days of hard work the rescue operation was successful.

Earlier at 7:12 pm, a team of doctors and NDRF men entered the tunnel as part of a pre-decided sop. After the final leg of the mission which lasted over an hour, saw the harried but stoic workers walking out, they were welcomed with garlands by CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways General VK Singh.

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Anurag Jain, Secretary, MoRTH, said, “It was a difficult but successful operation. Key factors working in our favor included access to electricity, water, and sufficient space for the trapped workers. Further, when we established the supply line, the situation became more manageable.

Talking about the challenges the rescue team faced, he mentioned that a minor earthquake on November 16 caused the debris to shift 3 inches inside the tunnel. The workers were startled by a loud noise the following day, causing a three-day interruption in work.

Uttarkashi Tunnel rescue operation Precautions had to be taken

Authorities have not provided a clear statement on what caused the collapse. Because the region is prone to landslides, earthquakes, and floods, there may be various reasons for the incident.

So many environmental experts question the construction of this tunnel.

Environmentalists attribute the blame to the government for the rapid construction in the areas, including the Char Dham project, for land subsidence incidents in the region. Ravi Chopra, an environmentalist, states that the Char Dham project was planned hurriedly.

According to him, the area is famous for limestone rocks, which dissolve in water, weakening the structure.

Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue Operation Precautions to be taken in future

To ensure safety during construction to the highest standard during construction, NHAI is going to undertake a safety audit of all 29 under-construction tunnels across the country.

The NHAI is a federal body that builds and manages all the national highways of India. The National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) will carry out a safety audit of more than two dozen tunnels in India.

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