'We are hoping that in three-four days we will surely get a positive result.'
For more than a week now 41 workers have remained trapped in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand.
All efforts to rescue the workers seem to fail and time is running out.
At present only dry fruits can be provided to these workers to eat, through the pipes that are reaching the area where the workers are trapped.
The construction of this tunnel was expected to reduce the journey from Uttarkashi to Yamunotri Dham by 26 km.
Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com spoke to Sanjay Dobhal, the MLA from Yamunotri, under which Silkyara falls, to know more about the rescue efforts and why it has failed till now.
What is the status of the 41 trapped workers in the Silkyara tunnel?
Right now the rescue work is going on at five different locations to bring out the trapped workers at Silkyara tunnel.
If one work gets halted after machine collapse then other machine starts working. We are hoping that in three-four days we will surely get a positive result.
If not three-four days, it will take two days.
Will they be able to survive without food for so long as it is eight days since they were trapped?
Supplying food is not happening, but we are able to send dry fruits to them (through pipes).
Right now, the rescue work is going on in full swing and even the PMO (the prime minister's office) is supervising the operation.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari too visited the rescue operation site today (Sunday). The Uttarakhand government too is closely monitoring the situation.
Are these 41 trapped workers alive? Is there any assurance you have given the families of these workers?
Yes, they are very much alive. 100 percent guarantee all workers are alive.
What is the last communication that took place with them?
I am giving a guarantee because each and every worker's family members have spoken to them.
I personally spoke to 7-8 family members of the trapped workers and all of them told me that their family member trapped inside the debris of tunnel is alive. I have to trust their word.
What about drinking water?
There is already water inside the tunnel that is dripping (through the mountains). Moreover, dry fruits are being passed through pipes and so is water.
What about oxygen to breathe? How do they breathe among all that trapped debris?
These workers are trapped in a region where there is 2,200 metres free space so there is enough oxygen available for them.
Moreover, I am told they are being supplied oxygen too through pipes, but the technicalities and details I don't know as it requires expertise to explain.
Why did the earlier rescue efforts fail?
I cannot comment on this because only a technical expert can answer this question.
The Uttarakhand government is doing whatever the experts on the spot are suggesting. And the central government is providing a green corridor for airlifting any machinery that is required on the site.
Are there any foreign experts on site to guide Indian experts in this rescue mission?
Yes, there are, but I do not know which countries they have come from.
Nitin Gadkariji was stating that they are taking guidance from the best experts across the world to save the lives of trapped workers.
It was reported that a safety tunnel for workers was not provided during construction and that resulted in these workers beinf trapped.
These things are a matter of inquiry and it will not be possible for me to comment on this issue right now.
The entire focus for the moment is to save the lives of trapped workers.
The Uttarakhand government has formed a high-power committee which will conduct an inquiry into this accident and the guilty people will be punished.
It is said this site was not the right place to build a tunnel.
I am not an expert, so I have no idea.
Uttarakhand being Devbhoomi, do you think such tunnels are required? Since you are the local MLA, didn't any locals object to the construction of this tunnel?
Nobody in my constituency felt that the place was not right for the construction of this tunnel.
It was widely believed that the soil in this region was firm and not prone to accidents but this is what many locals believe.
And I don't think the construction of this tunnel started just haphazardly. It was a well-thought out and well planned decision by technical experts from different arena and only after that the construction of this tunnel began.
What is the reason for the collapse now?
No idea now as this will be known only after an inquiry is conducted.
If the company responsible for building this tunnel did not do due diligence, then action will surely be taken against the persons concerned.
The inquiry has already begun.
What about the families of the trapped people?
They all have come here after the accident and staying in a nearby hotel.
How close are we to rescuing the workers?
We have to believe in god and trust him.
We all are hoping it will take another three days for them to come out of the tunnel.
It is said that the Uttarakhand government did not take the accident seriously when it happened and it delayed in getting the right machinery for rescue efforts.
It is not the Uttarakhand government's mistake because they are giving 100 percent in this rescue effort. They are only following the advice of technical experts on the ground.
Whatever they are asking, they are being provided by the Uttarakhand government. If they want 'A' machine first they get it and if they want 'B' machine later they get that later.
Every decision on the ground is being taken by the technical experts. The Uttarakhand government is just following them and providing them with every relief material they want.