Protests broke on Wednesday outside the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi as workers protested over the delay in rescuing 40 labourers who have been trapped inside after a portion of the under-construction tunnel collapsed on Sunday.
Even as relief and rescue operation continued on war footing, fresh debris falling from the roof of the tunnel are hampering the rescue work.
Rescuers had prepared a platform for the auger drilling machine to insert large-diameter steel pipes into the debris-filled tunnel, that aims to create a passage through which labourers could be brought out safely.
However, visuals from the site showed rescue officials using JCB machines to remove the fresh debris and working to mount the auger machine on the platform again to push the steel pipes into the tunnel.
Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar told  that relief and rescue work was proceeding on war footing, drilling work is being done with auger drilling machine.
“Due to natural obstacles, the speed of drilling is slow,” DGP Kumar said.
DGP said that efforts are being made by the central agencies with the help of Air Force to bring in a heavy auger drilling machine, which will speed up the rescue work.
He expressed hope about safely evacuating all the workers.
On Tuesday, District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela along with the senior doctor of the District Hospital, Dr Prem Pokhriyal, went inside the tunnel and talked to the workers through the pipe.
Officials from the administration and police present at the site to reassure anxious family members of the trapped workers who had gathered.
Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela, State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) Commandant Manikant Mishra, Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi, Chief Development Officer Gaurav Kumar, and many other officers are present at the spot and are playing their role in the rescue operation.
District Magistrate Ruhela said that a team of technical experts and engineers was present to start the process of pipe pushing, the process to form a passage by installing a 900 mm pipe inside the tunnel to help the trapped workers come out. Officials said that the workers were safe and being provided with oxygen, water, food packets and medicines through tubes.
“Deepak Malik, GM of Uttarakhand Drinking Water Corporation and an expert in drilling and boring is leading the technical aspect and drilling process of this campaign,” he said, adding that the process will start soon.
A portion of the tunnel that is being constructed between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway collapsed in the early hours of Sunday following a landslide, trapping 40 labourers inside. (ANI)