Silkyara tunnel rescue: Workers to be under watch at AIIMS Rishikesh
Workers rescued from the Silkyara tunnel being airlifted to AIIMS Rishikesh aboard Indian Air Force’s Chinook helicopter at the Chinyalisaur airstrip, in Uttarkashi district, on November 29 | PTI

Silkyara tunnel rescue: Workers to be under watch at AIIMS Rishikesh

Silkyara tunnel work put on hold and workers given rest for two days; official says work will remain suspended till a safety audit is done

The 41 construction workers who were rescued from the collapsed Silkyara tunnel and airlifted to the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh will be kept under medical observation for some time.

They have undergone radiology and cardiology tests and the reports are awaited, Medical Superintendent of AIIMS Rishikesh RB Kalia told news agency PTI.

The medical team that examined them will give its opinion on Thursday (November 30) based on these reports. Further action will be taken accordingly, he said.

The workers seem to be fine but something definitive can be said only when their test reports arrive, the official said.

Immediately after their evacuation on Tuesday evening, the workers were first taken to the community health centre in Chinyalisaur from where they were flown in a Chinook helicopter to Rishikesh on Wednesday afternoon.

Dhami celebrates with families

On Wednesday (November 29), Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami held a celebration to mark the recent festivals at his official residence with the relatives of the workers rescued in a multi-agency operation 17 days after a portion of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route collapsed, trapping them inside.

Families of the rescued Silkyara tunnel workers take selfies with Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami during the celebrations at his residence in Dehradun on November 29 | PTI

Taking part in the event along with his wife Geeta, Dhami said Diwali, Bhai Dooj, and Govardhan Puja passed without much celebrations this year because of the incident. “I had decided I would celebrate these festivals together only when they return safely. Now that they are back, we are organising the celebrations,” Dhami told reporters.

The chief minister’s residence was decorated and lit up on the occasion. Folk songs and dances were performed. He also met the relatives who attended the celebrations which concluded with a dinner.

State BJP president Mahendra Bhatt, Rajpur MLA Khajan Das, and Dehradun Mayor Sunil Uniyal Gama were also present.

Tunnel work halted for a few days

Meanwhile, the Silkyara tunnel site wore a deserted look on Wednesday. The passages near the tunnel, which were shut during the rescue operation, were opened on Wednesday. A team of policemen was also deployed at the tunnel.

“Construction work of the tunnel will remain suspended for a few days,” said a policeman.

According to sources, the work was put on hold and workers were given rest for two days. A worker, who did not wish to be named, said he was asked to take rest for two days, after which he will be briefed by the contractor. An official said the work will remain halted till a safety audit is done.

Since Wednesday morning, members of the rescue team were seen packing up their machines, which were brought from various parts of the country to assist in the rescue operation.

“We are happy...our brothers are out safely. That is enough,” the driver of a truck, which was loaded with a machine for drilling, told PTI. He had brought the machine from Rishikesh.

Worker from Bihar complains

As the workers thanked the central and state governments, a Bihar resident who was among the 41 rescued workers complained that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar did not send his officials to the tunnel site to inquire about the workers from the state, nor did he contact his relatives back home during their 16-day ordeal.

The worker reportedly complained of this when Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met him at the community health centre in Chinyalisaur and asked how he was doing.

“All other state governments sent their officials to the tunnel to inquire about the well-being of the trapped workers from their respective states. But our chief minister Nitish Kumar did not send anyone, nor did he contact our relatives back home to say a word of sympathy. I do not know what mistake we committed,” the worker told Dhami.

He also expressed his gratitude to the Uttarakhand chief minister for the efforts made by various agencies under his leadership to secure their safe exit from the tunnel.

Dhami had set up a camp office at Matli in Uttarkashi to monitor the rescue operations. Jharkhand and Odisha governments had sent their officials to the site.

There were five workers from Bihar among the 41 trapped in a part of the tunnel since its partial collapse on November 12.

(With agency inputs)

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