Uttarakhand Tunnel

Uttarakashi: Plasma Cutter From Hyderabad Being Flown In

Uttarakhand Tunnel

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Saturday said a plasma cutter is being flown in from Hyderabad to cut the auger machine that has got stuck in the debris of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi.

After visiting the site of the tunnel inside which 41 labourers have been trapped after it collapsed since November 12, Dhami said that the auger machine that was involved in drilling through the debris from the Silyara side is expected to be pulled out till tomorrow morning after which manual drilling will begin.

He described the conditions as “very difficult and challenging” and the way the machine which was drilling through the debris and placing pipes for the trapped workers to climb out had got stuck after reaching a certain point.

“Everyone knows that this rescue operation is being done under difficult and challenging circumstances. The machine got stuck after reaching so close…We are expecting that by tomorrow morning this machine will come out, and after that, the operation will move forward manually,” the chief minster said.

“We are working on all the options. A plasma cutter machine has been ordered from Hyderabad to cut the auger machine,” Dhami said.

The heavy duty US-made auger machine had got stuck after reaching a certain point, due to some metal object getting stuck inside it and the drilling operations had to be suspended on Friday evening.

Dhami said that he had spoken to the construction workers who were trapped inside the tunnel and their morale was high.

“I have just spoken to the people inside, Gabbar Singh, Sabha Ahmed and Sharia Mishra. The morale of all of them are absolutely strong. They told me that they were doing fine and were getting food on time. They asked me to take our time and safely take them out from the tunnel,” Dhami said.

“So we are also praying to God that the rescue be completed as soon as possible. At the level of the Government of India, the State Government and all our agencies, all the people are making their full efforts. We are making as many efforts as possible and the Prime Minister is getting progress reports every day. PM Modi is concerned about the situation and the condition of the workers. We are expecting and hoping that the operation is completed as soon as possible,” Chief Minister Dhami said.

Meanwhile, a 12-member team of the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) is on standby mode to do vertical drilling on the tunnel.

A final decision on the vertical drilling option is likely to be taken by Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

An SJVN official said, “We have given a proposal to the administration to do vertical drilling in 5 to 6 days; our team has done the survey for drilling; and apart from this, their drilling machine has also reached the spot to do the drilling. We are just waiting for the order to come.”

“The vertical drilling will be done from the top of the tunnel and about 85 to 90 metres will have to be drilled, which will take about 5 to 6 days. When drilling from inside the tunnel When the work of building the rescue tunnel gained momentum, the plan of doing vertical drilling was put on hold, but now, due to the hurdles we are facing, we have once again come into standby mode to see if the administration needs vertical drilling. We will start our work immediately after receiving the order,” added the SJVN official

Officials earlier today said that manual drilling will begin soon to cut through the rubble that separates rescuers from the 41 trapped workers.

According to officials, manual drillers will get to work once the US-made, heavy-duty Auger drilling machine is removed from the pipeline through which the trapped workers are to be brought out.

Manual drillers will work to cut through the remaining rubble that separates the rescuers from the workers and enable the insertion of the pipeline through the further few metres that are yet to be covered.

The ongoing operation to rescue workers, who were trapped after a portion of the tunnel collapsed on November 12, entered its 14th day on Saturday.

Success could soon be achieved in taking the Auger driller out of the pipeline, officials informed further, adding that the heavy-duty drillers could now be moved back by 22 metres.

Speaking to ANI, a senior official involved with the rescue operation said manual drilling could start soon.

He added that the remaining debris, extending approximately up to 6 to 9 metres, which stands between the rescuers and the trapped workers, will be removed through manual drilling.

Elaborating on the reasons why the officials involved in the rescue operation have decided to remove the Auger from the pipeline, the senior official told ANI, “While drilling with the US-made Auger machine, if we hit an obstruction every two to three feet, we have to remove it. And, every time we hit an obstruction, we have to roll Auger back 50 metres (up to which the pipeline has been laid). After running repairs, the machine has to be pushed back up to 50 metres, which takes about 5 to 7 hours. This is the reason why the rescue operation is taking longer than it should.”

He informed them further that after drilling up to a further 5 metres, the rescuers will reach the final few metres that separate them from the trapped workers.

However, the officials refrained from quoting a timeframe within which the rescue mission could be completed, saying that they were hopeful of a positive outcome once the manual drilling starts on Saturday.

Earlier, a team of experts, who came to conduct a survey at the tunnel site, informed that there were no heavy objects up to 5 metres inside the tunnel.

The team from Parsan Overseas Pvt Ltd Delhi used the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technique to examine the rescue tunnel.

Ground Penetrating Radar, also known as GPR, Georadar, Subsurface Interface Radar, or Geo-probing Radar, is a totally non-destructive technique to produce a cross-section profile of the subsurface without any drilling, trenching or ground disturbances.GPR profiles are used for evaluating the location and depth of buried objects and to investigate the presence and continuity of natural subsurface conditions and features.

After examining the rescue tunnel, geophysicist and GPR survey team member B Chendhoor said they were called to the scene after the Auger driller hit an obstruction.

After a portion of the tunnel caved in 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, which provides them safety. (ANI)

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