The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel on November 24 carried out a demonstration of the movement of wheeled stretchers through the pipeline inserted to extricate 41 workers trapped in a portion of the Silkyara tunnel of Uttarkashi, which collapsed over a week ago.
The ongoing efforts to rescue the workers, who have been trapped for the last 12 days after a portion of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route collapsed on November 12, cutting off its exit, is said to be on its last legs.
NDRF personnel, who went inside the pipeline for the demo, said they did not experience any breathing problems during the exercise and could move out comfortably.
Bhaskar Khulbe, a former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said a 2-metre part of the inserted pipe had to be cut off as it got compressed due to friction while drilling. This happened after the auger heavy-duty driller encountered an obstruction and exerted more pressure on November 23, he informed.
Speaking to the media on November 24 morning, Bhaskar Khulbe said the platform on which the Augur drilling machine was mounted developed some cracks on November 23. However, the cracks have been repaired since he informed me.
The 25-tonne platform, on which the heavy American Auger machine is mounted, has been strengthened using an accelerating agent for the rapid hardening of concrete, and rescue operations are expected to resume shortly, the former advisor to the PMO informed.
The platform developed some cracks whilst the rescue operation was underway on November 23, and the process of horizontal drilling through the debris had to be halted as a result.
“Last night, we had to revamp the platform on which the machine is mounted. However, Parsons Company operated a ground penetration radar, which told us that there is no metallic obstruction for the next 5 metres (inside the tunnel). This means that our drilling, once it resumes, should be smooth. When we were removing the debris, we came upon two mangled pipes,” Khulbe said, adding that the trapped workers may be extricated by November 24.
As a portion of the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot collapsed on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside.
The workers are trapped in a 2 km-built portion, which is complete, including concrete work that provides them safety.
(with inputs from ANI)