From Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to Gopalganj in Bihar, people from different parts of the country are flocking to the disaster-affected Tapovan area in Uttarakhand in search of their near and dear ones who are missing since the February 7 floods caused by a glacier break.
It has been long wait for the missing workers’ relatives who are anxiously watching all the developments related to the rescue operation at the project site. A large number of local women have also gathered, saying they are looking for their missing kith and kin.
After witnessing the slow pace of rescue operation, the people are gradually losing patience.
In presence of Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya on Thursday, and other top state government officials on Friday, the worried relatives called for speeding up the rescue operation. The Governor assured them saying the government will make an all-out effort in the search operation.
“Since yesterday (Thursday), we have been hearing that the rescue operation will be sped up by deploying additional machines. But till now, they (government and NTPC) have done nothing,” said Ramesh Dayal, a resident of Gorakhpur. His nephew, Rohit, has gone missing in the floods.
The local residents are providing food and shelter to most of the people who have come from outside the state.
Project officials had employed people, mostly in their 20s, from different states. They were working in the two projects — Rishiganga and Tapovan.
Significantly, scores of local people had taken off on Sunday — the day when the disaster struck.
“Local people usually don’t work on Sunday,” said Swati Bhadauria, District Magistrate, Chamoli.
Amid repeated disruptions in the rescue work since Thursday, there has been no breakthrough to find 25-35 people trapped inside the disaster-hit tunnel of Tapovan project area of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand.
The rescue work had been disrupted repeatedly due to different reasons mainly due to technical reasons.
Earlier, the rescue workers had started drilling the tunnel vertically downward. But within hours, the drilling work was also intermittently disrupted due technical faults in the machine. Few hours later, the flow of Dhauliganga started increasing which in turn disrupted the rescue work.
After days of digging and excavation work, the personnel of Army, ITBP, NDRF and SDRF, who are engaged in the rescue operation, managed to open a sizeable portion of the tunnel. However, the presence of heavy silt and sludge inside the tunnel slowed down the rescue work.
Rescuers also consulted NTPC officials to understand the complicated design of the tunnel.