NEARLY 10 months after a construction worker went missing after part of an under-construction tunnel caved in near Bilaspur in Himachal, the body was spotted under the debris Wednesday.
The body, of Hriday Ram (52), cannot, however, be taken out immediately, as the construction company has to first strengthen the portion of the tunnel and thereafter move slowly to retrieve the remains so that the body is not damaged, Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner Manasi Sahay Thakur said.
Hriday Ram, along with two other workers, got trapped when a chunk of the under-construction Swarghat-Nerchowk-Manali four-lane road project of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) caved in on September 12 last year. The two others, Maniram and Satish Tomar, were rescued after nine days, but Hriday Ram was not found.
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The Himalayan Construction Company, a subsidiary of IL&FS Engineering and Infrastructure, which is executing the project, had started removing the debris a few days ago to resume on work on the 2.5-km tunnel where the mishap had occurred.
“It’s a relief that the body has been spotted,” Praveen Kumar, the victim’s son, said. “We knew that he was not alive (but) we want to perform his last rites with the remains found from the tunnel.” Praveen, along with a few other relatives of the deceased, are camping at the site, summoned by the company to see the excavation work.
A tunnel worker engaged in the work, said that while excavating, they suddenly came across foul smell. They soon sighted parts of a body trapped under the debris, and it turned out to be Hriday Ram’s.
Manoj Patial, a senior tunnel engineer with the company, said steel ribs will first be put on the tunnel’s upper surface to strengthen it before work begins on ground to retrieve the remains. “The family members were also in agreement. We will take no risks and will try to retrieve the body in its present form. It will take another 48 hours,” Patial said.
Deputy Commissioner Thakur said after it is taken out, the body will be taken to the local hospital and thereafter to Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla for DNA sampling for identification before it is handed over to the family.