The Himachal Pradesh government on Wednesday announced an immediate relief of Rs 5 lakh for the family of labourer Hirday Ram, who is still trapped in the under-construction tunnel on the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project in Bilaspur district. His whereabouts are yet not known.
The relief money will be paid by the Himalayan Construction Company for which Hirday was working. Hirday, aged about 50, was among the three labourers of Himalayan Construction Company who were trapped in the tunnel after a part of it collapsed on September 12. Two of his co-workers Satish Tomar and Mani Ram were rescued on Monday after a nine-day rescue operation as part of which rescuers dug up a 45-metre vertical shaft in the hill to pull them out.
The kin of Hirday Ram, who hails from Mandi, on Wednesday gathered at the tunnel site and lodged their protest over suspension of the rescue work. Shiv Lal, a relative of the missing worker, sought that the administration continue the rescue operation until Hirday was traced.
Meanwhile, additional chief secretary (forest and revenue) Tarun Shridhar and additional chief secretary (public works department) Narender Chauhan, who visited the tunnel site to review the rescue, met the family members and assured them that no stone would be left unturned to trace Hirday.
"It's wrong to say that rescue work has been halted. Only the drilling work was suspended owing to fresh cracks in the tunnel which was bored horizontally and vertically," Shridhar said.
He said the family members of Hriday were taken inside the tunnel to apprise them of the real situation. "There is about four-feet water inside the tunnel. Infrared cameras were also placed inside the tunnel to locate Hriday, but there was no result," he added.
It had been decided, Shridhar said, that the company would pay Rs 5 lakh to the missing worker's family, while one of his sons would be given a regular job. Apart from this, the company would also bear the expenses of the marriage of Hirday's two daughters.
Shridhar further said a panel of experts would visit the site on Thursday and the further course of rescue operation would be decided on its recommendations.
Governor pays surprise visit to tunnel
Himachal Pradesh governor Acharya Dev Vrat paid a surprise visit to the site and reviewed the situation. Governor, who was on a tour to Hamirpur district, also met the family members of Hirday Ram, the worker, who is still missing, and assured all possible help. He also directed the officials to resume the rescue operation to trace Hirday. The governor appreciated the district administration for its success in rescuing two of the three workers.