With vertical drilling underway to further aid the rescue of the trapped workers in the Silkyara tunnel, the rescuers managed to make progress over a distance of 8 metres down the ground in the last one and a half hours.
According to official sources, drilling of up to 8 metres has been completed in the last one and a half years, and currently, the work to lay a 900-mm pipeline is being undertaken.
Vertical drilling, one of the several chalked-out options to bring out 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel, started on November 26 afternoon.
Two locations were identified for the vertical drilling, and both are on the Silkyara side of the high-altitude under-construction tunnel, a portion of which caved in on November 12.
SJVN, a public sector undertaking company involved in hydroelectric power generation and transmission, has just started vertical drilling work on the top of the tunnel atop the hill, the 15th day of continued rescue efforts.
As a second option, vertical drilling work has also been started in another part on top of the tunnel to create rescue space for workers trapped. This portion of the tunnel has access to electricity and water.
Multiple agencies are working on the rescue efforts. In the latest, the Indian Air Force has also joined in as it flew critical DRDO equipment to Dehradun.
On November 21, rescuers managed to insert an endoscopy camera into the tunnel. The first visuals captured on that device showed the trapped workers had ample space inside the tunnel for them to move around.
The visuals gave new hope to worried relatives, some of whom were camping outside the site of the collapsed tunnel structure.
Meanwhile, international tunnelling expert Arnold Dix, who has roped in the rescue project, said on November 26 that there was no chance of any further collapse in the area where the incident took place.
“It may have been an unusual situation occurring here where the class of rock changes. It has to be investigated. The area that collapsed hadn’t collapsed before; it wasn’t even given any clue that it was going to collapse before. So, it is a part of the challenge for us–what is it about the ground here, this mountain that caught us on the back foot,” he said.
Also, as part of efforts to relieve the stress and anxiety of the workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has stepped in to provide them with a landline through which they can talk to their families.
(with inputs from ANI)