Efforts are on to evacuate the laborers trapped in the tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand.

New Delhi:

The rescue operation to rescue 41 laborers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand is in its last phase. The workers trapped in the tunnel are safe. There is a continuous conversation with them. They are mentally strong and their morale is high. The debris in the tunnel was drilled from 62 meters to 47 meters via the Auger machine. Later, part of the machine broke, which is being tried to remove. The Air Force team is reaching to remove the broken part.

Officials said that now through the cutter, we are trying to remove the broken part. Now it will be dug manually. After removing the broken part of the auger, it will be tried manually.

Machinery is being transported to make holes from the top of the mountain. The excavation of the 1200 mm pit from the top will be done from top to bottom. You have to go to a depth of 86 meters, then the debris of the tunnel will also have to be broken. A third method of drift can also be adopted. Out of 62 meters, the carved part has to be kept stable up to 47 meters.

Preparations for vertical drilling begin

NHAI member Vishal Chauhan said that the broken part of the Auger machine is 6.6 meters i.e. 22 meters clear. There is a cutting of one to two meters per hour. Auger's router is stuck at 47 meters out of 25 meters. Vertical drilling can be done from barcoat. Now it seems that the need for vertical drilling is being felt

International tunnel expert Arnold Dix on Saturday said the auger machine used to rescue 41 workers trapped in the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district has failed. He said rescue teams were looking at other options, including vertical and manual drilling.
"The auger is broken, damaged," Dix told reporters in Silkyara.

There are constant obstacles in drilling with the Auger machine

For the last few days, there were constant obstacles while 'drilling' from the Auger machine. When asked about other options such as manual or vertical drills, Dix said all options were being considered. "Whatever option we are taking has its own pros and cons. We have to ensure the safety of rescuers and workers," he said.

He said that ensuring the safety of the trapped people and rescue workers is the goal of many agencies engaged in the operation. The tunnel expert said his daughter is also a miner and his heart goes out to the stranded workers.

On November 12, a portion of the tunnel on the Chardham Yatra route collapsed, trapping 41 workers working in it. Since then, various agencies have been carrying out rescue operations on a war footing to pull them out.

The length of the collapsed part of the tunnel is about 60 meters.

The drilling in the collapsed portion of the tunnel had to be stopped again on Friday night to evacuate the workers. On Friday, 800.46 metres of the 8-millimeter-wide steel pipe was pushed into the drilled path before a brief "drilling". The length of the collapsed part of the tunnel is about 60 meters.

The six-inch fourth tube has been extended to 57 meters to supply food and other essential items to the workers. An official said that due to one obstacle after another, the horizontal 'drilling' work to put steel pipes through the debris path through the Auger machine is coming to a halt. He said the option of manual drilling is being considered for the remaining portion of 10 to 12 metres. He said that manual 'drilling' work takes more time.

Efforts are also being made to create a vertical rescue route, the officials said. On Saturday morning, a large 'drilling' machine was moved up the tunnel to the hillside, where experts have identified two lowest-altitude locations for vertical drilling.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has already constructed a 1.5-km-long road up to the top of the tunnel as vertical drilling has been under consideration for some time now.

Vertical drilling is a more time-consuming and complicated option

International tunnel expert Arnold Dix said a few days ago that vertical drilling is a more time-consuming and complex option, which requires more accuracy and caution due to the relatively narrow space on the upper part of the tunnel.

The relatives of the workers trapped in the tunnel are gradually losing patience due to repeated interruptions in drilling by the machine and not getting the desired progress. Virendra Kisku, brother of Devendra Kisku, a resident of Banka in Bihar, is among the workers trapped in the tunnel.

"The authorities have been assuring us for the last two days that they (stranded workers) will be evacuated soon, but something happens that delays the process," Devendra said, expressing disappointment.