HT Interview: No stone left unturned in tunnel rescue op, says top NDMA official | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HT Interview: No stone left unturned in tunnel rescue effort, says Lt Gen Ata Hasnain

BySaptarshi Das
Nov 29, 2023 04:46 AM IST

The government has followed a procedure and ensured that they don’t overplay their hand, the official said

New Delhi National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Lt General (retd) Ata Hasnain, who has been a part of the massive operation in the Silkyara tunnel that ended in triumph with the safe rescue of 41 trapped workers, spoke to HT about the 17-day effort. Edited excerpts:

Lieutenant General (Retd.) Syed Ata Hasnain, Member, NDMA addresses the media on the Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) tunnel rescue operation.(ANI) PREMIUM
Lieutenant General (Retd.) Syed Ata Hasnain, Member, NDMA addresses the media on the Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) tunnel rescue operation.(ANI)

With pressure from the public and the media, how did the authorities manage to cope with the tense rescue mission? The media has been very mature and its approach has been very appropriate. But yes, the government has followed a procedure and ensured that they don’t overplay their hand, and given the right assurances and a sense of balance has been created for the public and for those who are carrying out the rescue efforts. They have also ensured that all those who are at risk inside and those who are at risk outside, all their risk is minimised that has been the concept of the operations throughout and that has been the guiding principle, which has been laid down by the honourable Prime Minister and the PMO, and that has been followed to the T.

Also read: Rat-mining gets the job done!

Rat-hole mining is such a primitive method, and it’s banned in India. What led the concerned authorities to come up with this technique after the American auger machine gave up? These are fresh and new contingencies that build up from time to time. You can try experimentation of all kinds. If after the auger failed, the manual drilling too failed, we would have gone for vertical drilling, and that is a risk-prone method also. So it’s a question of redundancy. We were following 5-6 options that we had established for the rescue mission, and no stone was left unturned to make sure that the technology required for the particular rescue mission was provided to the rescuers. Rat-hole mining may be illegal, but a rat miner’s talent gave the breakthrough today. Coal-mining through the rat-hole method is illegal, but it is a process that is still used in construction sites.

How many states were involved in this rescue ops and were there any special contributions from any particular ministry? From Odisha to Chhattisgarh to Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh, and from the other side from Gujarat to Rajasthan to Haryana to Delhi, and of course Uttarakhand -- so many states have been involved. The ministry of home affairs and state administrations of the said states have helped give green corridors to bring all these huge equipments to the site. Additionally, apart from the ministry of road transport and highways, and the health ministry, the Railway Board has been of immense help through the entirety of the rescue mission.

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