Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel rescue reminds of the days of Bollywood movie Kaala Patthar

The film Kaala Patthar was made in 1979, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Rakhi Gulzar and Parveen Babi. The film, made on similar lines, reminds us of the far-reaching cries of those families in Dhanbad and Jharia whose men were killed after getting trapped in the coal mines. This was almost a daily occurrence. Screams will be heard for a few kilometers with the night wind.

For example, the 1975 Chasnala mining disaster, which occurred near Dhanbad, killed 375 miners. There was flood after the explosion.

But data tabled in the Lok Sabha showed that 377 workers involved in coal, mineral and oil mining died in accidents between 2015 and 2017. Of these, there were 129 deaths in 2017, 145 in 2016 and 103 in 2015.

Landslides are another destructive manifestation of an angry earth. For example, the entire Malpa village in Pithoragarh district in the Kali valley of the upper Kumaon division of Uttarakhand was destroyed in the 1998 Malpa landslide.

Three mules died from the initial rock fall. By the time it ended, 221 people died underground, including 60 Hindu pilgrims going to Tibet as part of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. They also included actor Pooja Bedi’s mother and Indian dancer Protima Bedi.

Data from the Ministry of Earth Sciences showed that 3,782 major landslides occurred in the seven years to 2022. With a large number of casualties. Whether involving mules or humans, even tragedies of this scale failed to stir the nation into collective concern and mourning, leave alone action.

The entire nation was once taken by surprise by the plight of 41 stranded workers from different states inside the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi. As rescue teams desperately reached the victims, television channels, websites, newspapers and ubiquitous social media began posting minute-by-minute accounts.

It is media and technology, as well as growing optimism about one’s country that for the first time one saw Indians giving so much importance to the lives of other Indians, that too the lives of poor workers.

This impending tragedy and difficult rescue brought with it a flood of actions, most of which were positive.

Barring a tasteless Congress poster mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the opposition generally avoided politicizing the accident. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav also gave some suggestions for rescue.

Minister and former Army chief General VK Singh and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office PK Mishra personally inspected the rescue at the site.

Rat-hole tunnel diggers – an activity now banned in India – made last-mile rescue possible and gave a final, humanitarian touch to the efforts.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met the rescued workers at Chinyalisaur Community Health Center on Wednesday and inquired about their health. He handed over relief checks of Rs 1 lakh each. He ensured that all the workers were examined at AIIMS Rishikesh.

Dhami said the Boukhnag temple would be rebuilt and the tunnels under construction in the hill state would be reviewed.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to the rescued workers on telephone.

This entire episode signals a changing India where workers’ lives also matter, where a nation prays and springs into action for the underprivileged as intensely as it celebrates the success of its famous and powerful. thus we can say Uttarakhand tunnel rescue was India’s first world moment.