On Day 7 of rescue operation in Silkyara tunnel, drilling
By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 18 Nov: After a lull of 20 odd hours when the American Auger Drill machine had also developed a technical snag and the drilling work had to be halted, the machine has since been repaired and the drilling work has resumed this evening. In addition, the newly brought Auger Drill Machine from Indore has also reached the tunnel and may be soon used in the drilling work as it is presently being installed. The new machine is stated to be capable of drilling from 5 to 10 metres of debris every hour. However, the challenges remain as the vibration caused by continuous drilling work can lead to more debris fall.
At the same time, in all 5 plans have been decided for the rescue work in a meeting that was held this morning at the Silkyara site and which was attended by former OSD in PMO Bhaskar Khulbe, Deputy Secretary at PMO Mangesh Ghildiyal, CMD of NHIDCL, experts from Railway projects, and Hydro Power companies such as THDC, etc., and geological experts. As per the plan, it has been also decided to begin vertical drilling from the hill top with the help of a machine ordered from Holland. For this, construction of a ramp to take the machine from Holland to the hill top. As per the third plan, drilling from the other side (Badkot) of the tunnel has also begun. Here, about 400 metres length of digging and drilling is to be done to get through the tunnel.
As per the fourth plan, an escape tunnel or passage is also being constructed along the tunnel. For this horizontal drilling from both sides of the walls will begin soon by the engineers from Rishikesh-Karnaprayag Railway Project as they have immense experience in the matters of tunnel construction.
A new development is that some experts from Norway have also reached the site and they too are giving their inputs regarding the rescue operation. It may be recalled that in all there are not 40 but 41 workers who are trapped inside the tunnel. The 41st worker is stated to be from Bihar. Today is the seventh day of the rescue operation.
The PMO is also directly monitoring the rescue operation and officials from the PMO are in Silkyara already for this. The team from PMO incudes Deputy Secretary Mangesh Ghildiyal, Geologist Engineer Varun Adhikari, Deputy Secretary Mahmood Ahmed, OSD, Tourism and Armando Caplan, Expert Engineer. This team will work in coordination with the rescue team.
Along with this, experts from Australian consultancy company and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited have also reached the spot.
While on one hand, the rescue operation in Silkyara Tunnel is continuing on a war footing, on the other, at the request of the local villagers, a temple of the local village deity has been established at the main entrance of the tunnel where the priests are continuously praying for the safety of the trapped workers.