Former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Bhaskar Khulbe, on November 24 said that the rescue operation to evacuate the 41 trapped labourers inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi will resume soon as the technical snag has been fixed.
Speaking to the media here on November 24 morning, Bhaskar Khulbe said that the platform on which the Augur drilling machine had developed some cracks on November 23 and has been revamped now.
“The situation is much better now. Last night, we had to work on two things. First, we had to revamp the platform of the machine… Parsons Company had done the ground penetration radar, through which we got to know that for the next 5 meters, there is no metallic obstruction. This means that our drilling should be smooth. When we were taking out the debris, we got two mangled pipes…” Bhaskar Khulbe said, adding that the trapped worker may be evacuated by today.
Further, speaking to the reporters, he said that the Heavy Augur machine is now working smoothly.
“We have been able to fix the Auger machine strongly on its foundation. There were some obstacles on the mouth of the pipe, which we had to clear after cutting it. This is difficult work; hence it is taking time. I hope that the drilling work will begin again by 11-11.30 am. Ground penetration radar study has shown that there is no metallic obstruction in the next 5 metres,” he added.
Notably, November 24 marked the 13th day of the rescue operation to evacuate the trapped workers here.
On November 12, a portion of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot collapsed, and debris fell in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel, trapping 41 labourers inside.
The workers are trapped in a 2 km-built portion, which is complete, including concrete work that provides safety to the workers.
On November 21, the NHIDCL resumed overnight the “horizontal boring operation from the Silkyara end” that involved an auger machine. Images of an auger drilling machine facing obstruction to save workers surfaced on November 23 afternoon.
Some of the images from the tunnel showed the steel obstructing the free movement of the rescue pipe inside the tunnel and blocking the other side of the under-construction tunnel.
In one of the images, a shadow of a man is seen capturing the moments on his mobile phone. The debris was removed later, as per officials.
Rescuers, using an American Auger machine, resumed drilling on November 21 and, by late night on November 22, drilled through 45 metres out of the 60-metre stretch of debris that blocked the Sikyara side of the under-construction tunnel stretching from Silkyara to Barkot.
(with inputs from ANI)