Two trapped workers may be rescued today
If all goes well, Satish and Mani Ram — two of the three workers trapped in a tunnel in Bilaspur since September 12 — will breathe fresh air of Tihra hills tomorrow.
The rescue team is likely to pull them out through a 40-metre deep vertical tunnel dug with round-the-clock efforts of a team guided by experts of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
“We are confident that the workers will be rescued safely by tomorrow, depending on the strata,” said geologist Ramesh Chauhan. The view was echoed by design engineer Rakesh Sehgal and construction expert Arun Dhiman.
Though the workers are being supplied food and water regularly, they seem to have been in deep trauma. “We are fit and have enough food items now. But take us out immediately. For the past two days, you have been promising rescue in four-five hours each time you talk to us but the reality is that we are still stuck,” said Satish.
Dr Vikram Singh, a physician on duty who spoke to them today, said: “Their health is stable as they have been consuming banana, fruit juice, ORS fluids and water since Wednesday. They have enough oxygen and breathing space inside the tunnel. But since they did not have anything for four days, they must be in trauma.”
Labeled as tough labourers, Satish and Mani Ram have worked in Kol Dam, Thein Dam and other power projects. Though their safety has been assured, the fate of the third worker Hrida Ram, who hails from Chhakkar (Mandi), is still uncertain.
“A video released by the district administration only shows Satish and Mani Ram, but no one has informed us about Hridya Ram so far,” said Hridya Ram’s uncle Rajiv, who has been camping on the site with Hridya Ram’s father-in-law Jagdish Kumar since Friday.
“The police and the company officials executing the project don’t let us visit the drilling site,” Jagdish said.
Vinod Tomar, a family member of Satish, said: “The officials are not informing us about the progress of the rescue work. We don’t know when they will be pulled out.”
IL&FS, contractor firm of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), is executing the project and has set up a tent and emergency point for the visitors at the site.
Prem Chand, pradhan of Maliyar in Tihra, said the police did not allow him to visit the tunnel site yesterday. “We are supporting the rescue teams but we should be informed about the progress,” he said.
The district team led by Bilaspur DC Manasi Rai Thakur is monitoring the rescue operation round-the- clock. “We have informed the workers’ families about the progress of the rescue work and we expect to rescue them soon,” said Thakur, who was here in the afternoon to oversee the rescue work. “It may take 18 hours or so as the 12 metre tunnel is yet to be dug. The drilling machine has hit hard strata,” she added.