UTTARKASHI: In a significant development in the ongoing rescue operation at Uttarkashi’s tunnel, vertical drilling from the top of the hill is making swift progress as 31 metres of drilling work has been completed so far out of the 86 metres needed to reach the 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel. Now, the drilling work is being done to lay an 800/900 mm or 1.2 m diameter pipeline to aid the rescue work. The option to drill vertically was chalked out after the auger machine being used for horizontal drilling of the tunnel broke down.

The officials from the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) earlier said that vertical drilling has reached a depth of 19.2 meters on the 18th day of the ongoing rescue operations. The Silkyara tunnel collapse on November 12 left 41 workers trapped, prompting urgent efforts to free them.

Fast-Paced Rescue Operation

Addressing a press conference, NHIDCL Managing Director Mahmood Ahmad revealed that the drilling, a crucial part of the rescue strategy, is progressing rapidly. “We have completed around 19.2 meters of drilling. We have to drill around 86 meters within four days by November 30,” said Ahmad. He expressed optimism that the work would be completed on time, barring any unforeseen obstacles.



Auger Machine Removal Accelerates

Neeraj Khairwal, the Secretary of the Uttarakhand Government and the nodal officer in the rescue operation, highlighted the accelerated pace of work to remove the stuck auger machine from the tunnel. With the introduction of advanced machinery, the operation is advancing smoothly, with no reported hurdles. Khairwal emphasized a positive trajectory in the rescue efforts.

Panel Formed to Explore Escape Passage

Amidst the ongoing drilling, NHIDCL MD Mahmood Ahmad acknowledged the consideration of an escape passage. He revealed the formation of a committee to explore this option, emphasizing that the immediate priority is the safe extraction of the trapped workers. 

Pipeline Drilling In Progress

Officials reported the completion of an 8-inch pipeline drilling for 70-80 meters, temporarily halted, while a 1.2-meter diameter pipeline drilling reached 20 meters.

Devotees Light Lamps For Trapped Workers

Ahead of ‘Dev Deepawali,’ devotees gathered at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar to light 21,000 lamps, offering prayers for the trapped workers in the Silkyara Tunnel.



All Workers Safe And Stable

Lt General (Rtd) Syed Ata Hasnain from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) provided updates on the drilling progress. Plan 2, involving vertical drilling, is underway, with 17 meters already completed. Plan 3, sideways drilling, is yet to be implemented. Lt General Hasnain assured that all workers are in stable and safe conditions. Medical and psycho-social support is being provided, and drone cameras monitor the rescue operation.

Union Minister VK Singh Visits Site

Union Minister General VK Singh visited the Silkyara tunnel site to oversee the ongoing rescue operation, where a unit of Madras Sappers has been deployed for manual drilling.

Manual Drilling, Rat Boring Being Considered

To expedite the rescue, the Indian Army, along with civilians, is considering manual drilling methods, including rat boring. This involves using hands, hammers, and chisels to clear debris inside the tunnel.

Supplies And Communication Inside Tunnel

Freshly cooked food, fruits, medicines, and communication tools are being provided to the trapped workers through a lifeline, ensuring their well-being during the operation. THDC has initiated the construction of a rescue tunnel from the Barkot end, aiming to create an alternative route for the rescue operation. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) and other agencies are actively involved in infrastructure development to support the rescue efforts.

The tunnel collapse occurred on November 12, trapping 41 workers inside. Since then, various agencies, including THDC, BRO, and ONGC, have collaborated to expedite the rescue operation. The situation is being closely monitored, and the collaborative efforts aim to ensure the safe and swift extraction of the trapped workers.

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By David

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