Uttarakhand

13 to 14 meters of drilling still remains to reach the workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel.

Rescue operation continues to rescue 41 workers trapped for 12 days, obstacles encountered on Thursday
Uttarkashi
. The wait for the coming out of 41 workers from eight states, who were trapped in the tunnel under construction in Silkyara, Uttarkashi for 12 days, has increased. The operation to save the lives of workers slowed down on Thursday due to obstruction in drilling at the last stage.
In the last 24 hours, the relief and rescue team had to face four major obstacles, due to which only 1.8 meters of drilling could be done on Thursday in the exit tunnel being built from steel pipes by Silkyara. Till now, 46.8 meter exit tunnel out of about 60 meter has been ready to evacuate the workers trapped in the tunnel.
There is still 13 to 14 meters of drilling to be done to reach the workers. Work is being done on all fronts to get drilling back on track. Efforts were continuing till night to streamline the operation. Now the campaign is expected to conclude on Friday.
On November 12, 41 workers were trapped inside a 4.5 km long tunnel under construction of Chardham Alvedar Road Project in a landslide at around 5.30 am in the morning at Silkyara on Yamunotri Highway, 50 km from Uttarkashi district headquarters. Since the same day, more than 12 agencies of the Central and State Government are engaged in relief and rescue work to get the workers out safely. Help of national and international experts is also being taken in the campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami are monitoring the campaign. But, due to the continuous challenges, the wait for the rescue operation which has been going on for more than 300 hours to reach its destination is increasing. One moment it seems that the campaign has reached a decisive stage, but the next moment some obstacle arises.
When the auger machine started drilling after four days at around 1.45 am on Tuesday night, it was thought that the workers trapped in the tunnel would be rescued safely by Wednesday. But, during drilling around midnight on Wednesday, the pipe could not move forward due to pieces of rebar and metal coming in at the 45th meter.
Dr. Neeraj Khairwal, the nodal officer of the rescue operation, said that the rebar and metal pieces were so strong that they penetrated inside the 800 mm diameter thick pipe being pushed into the tunnel with the auger machine. Due to this the front part of the pipe got badly bent. Besides, a part of the auger machine also broke. In such a situation, drilling had to be stopped. Even on Thursday, the 12th day of the operation, the relief and rescue team continued to struggle with obstacles.
However, the work of manually cutting the obstructions in the way of drilling with gas cutters was immediately started. After five hours of tireless efforts, the rebar and metal pieces were cut and the bent part of the pipe was also separated.
Meanwhile, the team of engineers who reached Silkyara from Delhi installed another part and repaired the machine. After which drilling was started again, but after 1.8 meters another obstacle arose. Pipe pushing to prepare the exhaust tunnel was found to be a high pressure on the auger machine. Seeing the situation becoming abnormal, drilling had to be stopped in the afternoon.
According to Nodal Officer Dr. Neeraj Khairwal, vibration was also found in the auger machine during drilling on Thursday. Investigation revealed that the platform built for operating the machine was shaking. There is a possibility that when there was excess pressure on the machine due to pieces of hard metal coming in during drilling, it slipped from its place. At present, the work of removing the flaw in the platform is in progress. The platform is likely to be repaired by late night.
Four obstacles faced in rescue operation in last 24 hours

  1. The operation had to be stopped due to pieces of rebar and metal coming in the way of drilling. (Workers Praveen Yadav and Balwinder of Trenchless Engineering Services cut the bar and metal barrier with a gas cutter after five hours of tireless work.)
  2. Due to the rubbing of rebar and metal, the front end of the exhaust tunnel pipe got bent. (After removing the obstructions of rebar and metal, the bent end of the pipe was cut and separated with a gas cutter.)
  3. The auger machine part is defective. (The team of engineers who arrived from Delhi on Thursday repaired the machine by installing another part.)
  4. The platform made for installing the auger machine was damaged. (being repaired.)
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