Nainital: Amid the ongoing rescue operation to evacuate the 41 labourers from inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi, the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday directed the state and central governments to submit a report over the status of the workers within 48 hours. Hearing a PIL for immediate evacuation of the workers trapped inside the tunnel in Silkyara, Uttarkashi, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manoj Kumari Tiwari and Justice Pankaj Purohit, taking the matter seriously, has asked the state and central governments to submit their reply within 48 hours.
The court has fixed Nov 22 as the next date of hearing in the case. The court has issued notices to the Ministry of Disaster Management, Secretary Public Works Department, Central Government and National Highway Development Authority and asked them to submit their reply. It is learnt that Samadhan NGO's Krishna Vihar based in Dehradun has filed a PIL saying that 41 laborers are trapped inside the tunnel in Silkyara, Uttarkashi since last November 12.
But the government has so far failed to expel them, the PIL said adding the government and the implementing agencies are “playing with the lives of the people trapped in the tunnel”. The petitioner, while accusing the respondents of playing dilly dallying tactics demanded that criminal cases should be registered against those found guilty.
The petitioner further demanded that the entire matter should be investigated by SIT. While hearing the petition, the judges have sought reply from the state and central governments within 48 hours. The tunnel is being constructed under the Chardham Road project in Silkyara, Uttarkashi. On the morning of Diwali Nov 12, a landslide occurred in the tunnel under construction trapping 41 workers inside the tunnel.
For the last 9 days, rescue operation is going on to take these workers out of the tunnel safely with the authorities also roping in the Indian Air Force in the rescue operation. The Uttarakhand government has decided to bear the expenses of the family members of the workers. Sources said the government will bear the expenses of travel, accommodation, food and mobile phones of the families of the stranded workers.
The Uttarakhand government has also decided to send three more officers to Uttarkashi to talk to the families of the workers. IAS Dr. Neeraj Khairwal and SDM Shailendra are already deployed at the accident site to coordinate with the families of the stranded laborers. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the work of evacuating the workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel is going on at a “fast pace”.
CM Dhami said that along with the rescue work in the tunnel, they are also providing up-to-the-minute information by establishing better coordination with the family members who are coming to inquire about the well-being of the workers. To maintain better coordination, a police control room was set up in Uttarkashi on the day of the incident.
Sources said that the government has sought help from a robotic team, which has already reached Silkyara to assist in the ongoing rescue operation.