On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi contacted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami by phone to inquire about the well-being of 40 workers who had been trapped inside an under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi for more than 24 hours.
According to an official statement, PM Modi has made two inquiries about the incident thus far. The statement also noted that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw have also had discussions with CM Dhami.
Concerning the relief and rescue operations, Chief Minister Dhami assured that various state and central agencies are working together with prompt coordination. He confirmed that all the workers inside the tunnel are safe, and continuous efforts are underway to ensure their prompt rescue.
After personally inspecting the site, Dhami is actively overseeing the rescue operations and has organized the dispatch of large-diameter hume pipes from Haridwar and Dehradun to assist in the rescue efforts.
SP Arpan Yaduvanshi, who visited the tunnel, estimated that it might take another day to successfully rescue the trapped workers. He provided details on the progress of the rescue operation, mentioning that out of the 60 meters of debris, over 20 meters have been cleared. Basic necessities such as oxygen, food, and water are being supplied through pipes, and communication has been established with the family members of the trapped individuals.
Ranjeet Kumar Sinha, State Disaster Management Secretary, attributed the tunnel collapse to pressure caused by soft rock. He emphasized the primary focus on safely rescuing the trapped individuals, anticipating their evacuation by the next day or the day after. Sinha assured that there is enough oxygen inside the tunnel for people to survive for at least 5-6 days.
A report from the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) disclosed that the Silkyara Tunnel, with a length of 4531 meters and a construction cost of ₹853.79 crore, experienced a breach of 21 meters. The report outlined the events leading to the collapse on November 12, emphasizing ongoing rescue efforts and periodic visits by experts to assess the situation.