The efforts to rescue 41 trapped labourers are progressing on multiple fronts, with both vertical and manual drilling works taking off at an almost similar pace from atop the hill and inside the tunnel accordingly on November 28.
As per official sources, the vertical drilling, which was paused last night, has also resumed, and about 43 metres of drilling work have been done so far out of the 86 metres needed. The remaining work may take another 40 to 50 hours.
However, officials part of the vertical drilling team said that the work undertaken from the mouth of the tunnel is seen as the more feasible rescue option and that it will be completed faster than vertical drilling.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who has been monitoring the rescue operation, told reporters this morning that almost 52 metres of drilling work has been done so far in totality.
“All the experts have been working for a long time. 52 metres of drilling work has been done, everyone is fine, everyone is full of energy. We hope the work will be completed as soon as possible. The manner in which the work is ongoing, we hope that there will be a breakthrough very soon,” CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said.
As per official sources, about 57 metres of drilling work from the mouth of the tunnel, is to be done in total to lay a pipe inside the tunnel to reach the trapped workers.
“Earlier, steel girders were found (during drilling), this has been reduced now. We are finding more concrete right now, it is being cut with a cutter,” he added.
CM Pushkar Singh Dhami reviewed the ongoing operations at the tunnel site. He was accompanied by Secretary to the Uttarakhand Government Neeraj Khairwal, District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela, Uttarkashi SP Arpan Yaduvanshi, former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office Bhaskar Khulbe and Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Mangesh Ghildiyal.
Asserting confidence, the workers involved in rat-hole mining inside the Silkyara tunnel said that the drilling work would be completed in 24 hours and the trapped labourers would be brought out soon.
Speaking to the media on November 28 morning, Naseem, one of the workers said that they have already done 5 metres of manual drilling work so far, and 51 metres have been completed in totality.
“51 metres of drilling is completed. We have done 5 metres inside through manual drilling. We are going inside the 800 mm pipe and about 6 metres of drilling work is left. It won’t take much long, we will complete it in 24 hours and will bring our boys out soon,” Naseem said.
Rat-hole miners are carrying out the manual drilling work, which has been going on since November 27 night. The debris thus generated is taken out manually using ropes from the rescue pipe.
Speaking to the media on the ongoing rescue efforts, micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper said that it is looking very positive the way work is gaining momentum.
The drilling work was halted at around 47 metres after the auger machine got stuck in the debris. Later it was cut and removed using a plasma cutter. Officials informed that the 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel are stable and safe.
A delegation led by Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Pramod Kumar Mishra also took stock of ongoing efforts earlier on November 27. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu, along with PK Mishra, inspected the work inside the tunnel.
(with inputs from ANI)