Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Tuesday morning was accompanied by good news that for the first time, pictures and videos of 41 laborers trapped in a tunnel in Silkyara, Uttarakhand, surfaced for the last 10 days. This was made possible by a 57 meter long lifeline pipe of six inches diameter extended to the workers from the main entrance of the tunnel (Silkayara side), through which an endoscopic flexi camera was passed to the workers.
Receiving confirmed information about the well-being of the workers has brought relief to their families and other workers as well as to the relief and rescue teams. Relief and rescue teams have deployed their efforts on all six fronts to get the workers out safely.
The drilling being done with auger machine towards Silkyara, which was stopped since the afternoon of 17th November, was once again started in the night. Also, the work of installing machines for vertical drilling on the upper part of the tunnel has been started.
work going on war footing
At the Barcot end too, the agencies have taken important steps towards both vertical and horizontal drilling. Overall, the campaign to save lives now seems to be moving towards a decisive turn. According to Mahmood Ahmed, Managing Director of NHIDCL, the construction agency of the tunnel under construction of Chardham Alvedar Road Project on Yamunotri Highway, the horizontal drilling work from Silkyara was stopped since the afternoon of November 17 due to a technical fault in the auger machine.
By that time, 22 meters of drilling had been done to deliver 900 mm diameter pipes to the workers. This is the most suitable option for firing workers in less time. Therefore, it was decided to drill here once again on Tuesday morning.
Earlier it was decided to use 800 mm pipe instead of 900 mm to penetrate the debris pile. Because, smaller diameter pipes will be able to easily enter debris and vibration will also be less. By 9 pm, four six meter long pipes of 800 mm diameter had been inserted in the 22 meter portion of the earlier drilling.
Machines for vertical drilling started arriving in the tunnel.
According to Dr. Neeraj Khairwal, the nodal officer appointed by the state government, the work of preparing the rescue tunnel and life line tunnel by vertical drilling above the tunnel has been started. By noon, the benches were ready to install the machines, while by 9 pm, three drilling machines had been installed.
THDC started drilling eight meters from Barkot end.
According to Mahmood Ahmed, THDC is handling the work of horizontal drilling on behalf of Barkot. Working rapidly in this direction, about eight meters of drilling has been done through blasting. RVNL has also started preparations for drilling from this side. However, the distance from this part to the empty part inside the tunnel is more than 170 meters.
ONGC’s help is being taken for drilling at another point in the same part and the experts of the institute have also started their work. Along with ONGC, experts from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology will also help in paving the way for other drilling sites. Of course, there is more challenge in drilling from the Barkot end, but all options are being considered to save the lives of the workers.
Oranges, bananas and apricots sent to workers
Director General Information Banshidhar Tiwari said that on Tuesday morning, oranges, bananas and apricots were delivered to the workers through six-inch lifeline pipes. Medicines, electricity, salt etc. have also been sent. Now preparations are being made to send cooked food like khichdi, roti and vegetables. According to NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalke, walkie-talkies were also sent to talk to the workers, through which their condition was known.
Ban on holidays
Director General Medical Dr. Vineeta Shah on Tuesday inspected all the nearby hospitals including the six-bed temporary hospital built in Silkyara and took stock of the health facilities. Along with this, he has banned the leave of all doctors and health workers of Uttarkashi district till further orders.
Trust in God along with science and technology
On one hand, engineers from reputed agencies of the country are working day and night to get the workers out of the tunnel safely. At the same time, the thread of hope is also tied to faith. Regular morning and evening puja is performed in the temple of Boukhnag deity recently established on the right side of the tunnel entrance. Arnold Dix, President of the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association also visited here.