We will celebrate Diwali once our men return: Kin of trapped workers from Jharkhand

Ranchi: “We had lost all hope of our family members getting rescued safely, but God had some other plans for us,” said Triveni Bediya, the uncle of one of the 41 workers trapped in the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district.

Triveni Bediya, who hails from Kheerabeda village in Jharkhand, just 32 km from the state capital of Ranchi, told IANS, “Whenever the news of the Auger machine getting stuck, hitting an obstacle or breaking down reached us, our hearts sank. We had little hope of their survival. But I want to thank God, the Indian Army personnel and the rat miners who manually dug the debris to bring them out safely in the end.”

Triveni Bediya recalls the moment the news of the collapse trapping their family members inside the tunnel, which was part of the government’s mega Char Dham project, reached them through the five workers from their village, who had came out in the nick of time.

“Following the news, the families of the trapped workers were inconsolable. It was very difficult to comfort Anil’s aged mother and father,” he said.

He said that at least eight workers from the village had gone to Uttarkashi on November 1 from Ranchi and they were present inside the tunnel when a portion of it collapsed. Of the 41 labourers trapped inside, three, Anil, Rajinder and Sukhram Bediya, were from their village.

Triveni Bediya said that Anil’s family is very poor and they don’t even have a proper house. “Anil went there to support his family and earn some money,” he said and added that the family has now decided that they will not allow Anil to leave the village anymore. “They want him to earn his living here only instead of risking his life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Manoj Bediya, who is the elder brother of Sukhram Bediya, one of the other workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel, told IANS, “I will not be sending him outside the state anymore. If he has to earn and support us he will work here. I request the government to make some employment plans for labourers like us to support our families by working in the state.”

Manoj Bediya said that his brother will be brought back to the village on Friday as they are still admitted in hospital in Uttarakhand.

Meanwhile Triveni Bediya said that the local Congress MLA from Khijri Assembly seat Rajesh Kachhap arranged for the travel, stay and food of the family members of the men who were struck in the tunnel. Rajesh Kachhap was also of great help to the families of the workers from the state present in Uttarakhand.

Triveni Bediya said that he also spoke once to the Jharkhand Chief Minister during the rescue operation, and he had promised to bring the sons of the state back safely.

Triveni Bediya said that as the men got trapped in the tunnel on November 12, which was Diwali day, their families will now celebrate the festival only once they return to the village. “We will burst crackers and also distribute sweets on Friday,” he said.

He also said that the Uttarakhand Government had given cheques of Rs 1 lakh each, to the trapped workers and even the Jharkhand Government will be making some announcements once they return.

Triveni Bediya also urged the state government to bring an employment policy for the labourers in the state so that the poor and the marginalised don’t have to leave their homes and go to other states in search of jobs.

He also said that for all the news regarding the rescue operation, which went on for 17 days, the families were dependent on the communication from the other workers of the village present there. “Later some more people from the village reached there,” he added.

All the 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel were rescued on Tuesday night in a mega multiple agency operation which also included rat miners.

Relief and rescue work which entered the 17th day on Tuesday was carried out by scientists, international experts, NDRF, SDRF and the BRO on a war footing till all of them were safely evacuated.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])


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