HT Interview: India is capable of carrying out the toughest rescue ops, says Uttarakhand CM
The chief minister spoke about the lessons learnt from the rescue operations and how the hill state will move forward from the Silkyara tunnel rescue operation.
The Uttarakhand tunnel rescue was successful due to the effective coordination between the state and central agencies and constant monitoring of the situation, state chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, a day after 41 workers were rescued from the tunnel where they had been trapped for 17 days. In an interview with Chetan Chauhan, the chief minister spoke about the lessons learnt from the rescue operations and how the hill state will move forward from this. Excerpts:
What will you attribute the operation’s success to?
I have faced several challenges during my tenure as chief minister but this one was the toughest. We put in lot of effort to ensure that all logistical support was provided to the rescue team and under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji and due to his daily monitoring, the operation was successful. Lot of experts and agencies worked overtime to ensure that every life in the tunnel was saved.
How did the government keep the morale of trapped workers high?
The workers, who were trapped inside the tunnel, were in constant touch with our medical team and we kept their morale high. We installed a communication system and counsellors spoke to them every day. We also enabled them to speak with their families through the communication system. We provided them with nutritious food and adequate oxygen to ensure that they didn’t fall ill inside the tunnel. A separate six-inch pipeline was inserted to provide hot meals and essentials to the workers.
Do you think tunnelling in Himalayas is impacting local ecology?
Uttarakhand is a tough mountain state. Construction of road tunnels can help to reach far flung areas in a shorter period and throughout the year. This helps in improving services to people... development is also important. Tunnels have been built here earlier as well. On Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail route, a a tunnelwas built, without any problem. The central government has already ordered a safety audit of all tunnels under construction. The state government is also reviewing the tunnelling work in the state.
What are the lessons learnt from this tunnel collapse?
We have learnt a lot from this incident. There was learning on how to conduct a tunnel rescue operation and we succeeded due to good coordination between the state and the central government agencies. Getting experts and equipment to the incident site was very quick. The Prime Minister’s Office and several central government agencies did brilliant work. Any equipment that was needed reached the site at the shortest possible time. The incident showed India is capable of carrying out toughest rescue operations.
What is the way forward?
We have decided to review all such projects in the state and our aim is to strike a balance between ecology and economy. We are working towards how to ensure development for the people of Uttarakhand without disturbing the environment much. Balancing economy with ecology is important.
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