Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, who visited the Silkyara tunnel collapse site in Uttarakhand on Sunday morning, said the government would arrange whatever is required to save the lives of the 41 trapped workers.
Gadkari, who was accompanied by Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, said the rescue operation is challenging as the soil strata in the Himalayan region is not uniform. He said it is soft at some places and hard at other places which makes mechanical operation difficult.
“We are working on six options simultaneously. The PMO is also closely monitoring the operation. Our biggest priority is to save all those who are trapped, as soon as possible. Whatever is needed will be done,” he told reporters at the accident site.
He said horizontal drilling with the American auger is the quickest method under the given circumstances to reach the trapped workers. “American auger was working alright when it was drilling through soft soil. It faced some problems after it encountered some hard obstacle that led to the machine applying greater pressure and creating vibrations following which it was stopped for safety reasons,” he said.
Drilling on hold; multi-pronged approach
Rescue work at the collapsed Silkyara tunnel was virtually on hold on Sunday as the agencies involved in the effort set themselves up for the next stage. Officials said a road to the top of the hill has been laid in a single day for digging a vertical shaft down into the tunnel.