Silkyara: Rescue operations continue in full swing to save the 41 trapped workers at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi and the Government said it is maintaining constant communication and making all efforts to keep up the morale of the workers trapped in the 2 km-built tunnel portion.
This two-kilometre portion of the tunnel was complete including concrete work that provides safety to the workers, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways stated today. It claimed that electricity and water were available in this portion of the tunnel and workers were provided food items, medicines etc. through a 4-inch compressor pipeline.
Today, the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) completed the drilling of another 6-inch diameter pipeline for the supply of food, medicines and other essential items, which the government claimed to be the achievement of a “major breakthrough”. Further, the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) was working on another vertical pipeline for supply of essential items.
The Ministry said that various government agencies have been involved in the rescue operation and have been assigned specific tasks. These agencies are working tirelessly for the safe evacuation of the workers.
Below are the updates for the construction of the Vertical Rescue Tunnel:
Operations for the rescue of labourers:
- Horizontal boring by NHIDCL from Silkyara end for the rescue of workers through the Augur boring machine is scheduled to recommence this evening.
- The first machine of SJVNL for the construction of the Vertical rescue Tunnel has already reached the tunnel site and operations are being commenced post-completion of the access road by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The movement of two other machines for the vertical tunnel construction started from Gujarat and Odisha through the road.
- Work on the construction of a rescue tunnel of 480 metres from Barkot end by Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation (THDC) has commenced.
- Machinery for micro-tunneling by RVNL through horizontal drilling for the rescue of labourers is being transported from Nashik and Delhi.
- Machinery for vertical boring is being mobilized by ONGC from the USA, Mumbai and Ghaziabad.
BRO worked when the approach road for vertical drilling of RVNL and SJVNL was constructed within 48 hours. Further, work is continuing for the approach road for ONGC.
It may be recalled that on November 12, 2023, it was reported that a collapse occurred in under under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot due to a muck falling in a 60-meter stretch in the Silkyara side of the tunnel. After the incident, the State Government, and the Government of India mobilised resources immediately for the rescue of the 41 trapped labourers.
It was decided to lay a 900 mm pipe through the muck as it was the best and fastest possible solution as per the experts’ advice. However, on November 17, 2023, because of ground movement, it became unsafe to continue with this option without securing the structure. Considering the lives involved, it was decided to move on all possible fronts together so that the workers could be rescued as early as possible.
The area in which the workers are trapped is 8.5 metres high and 2 km long. This is the built-up portion of the tunnel where concreting work has been done providing safety to the labourers. Electricity and water are also available in this portion of the tunnel.
Five options were decided and five different agencies were detailed to carry out these options. Five agencies namely Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCL) have been assigned responsibilities.
NHIDCL is creating another 6-inch pipeline for food and drilling of 39 metres out of 60 metres is completed. Once this tunnel is ready, it will facilitate the delivery of more food items. RVNL is working on another vertical pipeline for the supply of essential items after the Border Roads Organization completed building an approach road in just one day. NHIDCL will continue to drill from the Silkyara end after working on safety arrangements. To facilitate this Army has prepared the box culvert. A canopy framework is being made to ensure workers’ safety. Further, Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation (THDC) has undertaken work of micro tunnelling from Barkot end for which heavy machinery had already been mobilised. Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) was implementing vertical drilling to rescue the trapped labourers. Accordingly, equipment had been mobilized from Gujarat and Odisha through Railways as being 75-tonne equipment it could not be airlifted.
ONGC, having expertise in deep drilling, had also started initial work for vertical drilling from Barkot end.
– global bihari bureau