Tunnel collapse: Local residents praying to their deity for early rescue of trapped workers

Tunnel collapse: Local residents praying to their deity for early rescue of trapped workers

Uttarkashi, Nov 25 (PTI) With repeated obstructions impeding the Silkyara tunnel rescue operation, residents of nearby villages are praying to the local deity, Baba Boukhnag, for the early release of the 41 workers trapped inside for the past 13 days.

Talking to PTI, many local residents said they offer prayers daily for the wellbeing and safe rescue of the workers.

Rajesh Rawat, a resident of Bhramkhaal village, about 10 km from the tunnel, said he and his family members are praying to Baba Boukhnag daily.

Rawat, who owns a homestay in his village, said the local residents have huge faith in Baba Bhoukhnag and the workers will come out soon with his blessings.  According to local residents, Boukhnag deity is considered the protector of the area.

Rajender Singh, who runs a roadside eatery at Silkyara village, said that apart from offering prayers for the wellbeing of the trapped workers, everyone in his village tries to help the rescue personnel working at the site day and night.

Brij Mani Bhat, a resident of Mehargaon village, about three km away from the tunnel, said he lights an earthen lamp every morning and pray for the early rescue of the trapped workers.

'I hope the trapped workers will come out soon and meet their family members. The rescue team members are working continuously but unfortunately the work gets stopped due to the machines. We don't know the technicalities and cannot do much but we can at the least pray to our God for their early rescue,' Bhat said.

Local residents said there will be a 'mela' at the temple of Baba Boukhnag near the tunnel on Sunday.

Drilling at the collapsed portion of the tunnel has been halted since Friday as the auger machine faced hurdles one after another. An tunnelling expert at the site said on Saturday the machine was broken.

Rescuers are now exploring other options such as drilling the remaining stretch of 10 to 12 metres manually or creating a vertical escape passage for the 41 labourers trapped inside.

The multi-agency rescue effort began November 12 when a portion of the under-construction tunnel on Uttarakhand's Char Dham route collapsed following a landslide, trapping workers inside.

Earlier, many local people had said they believed the under-construction tunnel collapsed due to the wrath of Baba Boukhnag whose temple was demolished for its construction.

After initial efforts to rescue the trapped workers failed, temple priest Ganesh Prasad Bijalwan had earlier said, company officials called him and requested him to perform a special puja.

He performed the puja last week and prayed for the success of the operation to rescue the workers.

The priest had then said, 'Uttarakhand is the land of gods. There is a tradition of building a small temple for the local deity before building any bridge, road or tunnel. The work is completed only after taking their blessings.' PTI ALK SMN SMN

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated feed.

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