UTTARKASHI TUNNEL UPDATE : Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, has announced that the completion of the drilling process and pipe-laying for evacuation of the 41 trapped workers is complete. Manual drilling was initiated with the involvement of rat-hole mining specialists. They worked through the mountainous terrain and debris and completed the process working round-the-clock. On November 28, 2023, at around 1:30 pm, an address from the state government’s information department announced the completion of drilling. Shortly afterwards, the Chief Minister confirmed on social media that the escape pipe had been laid successfully into the drilled passage. He expressed optimism about safely bringing out all the workers soon.
At least 12 rat-hole mining experts were entrusted with the responsibility of drilling through the final 10- 12 meters of debris in the collapsed section of the under-construction Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand that has resulted in 41 trapped workers. An alternative drilling approach had to be employed after a large Auger machine broke and became stuck inside the drilled passage that was being carved out for evacuation. Work came to an immediate halt and a new approach had to be adopted.
NDMA member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata said the rescue team was now near a breakthrough, “but not quite there”. NDRF personnel are expected to enter the steel chute pushed into the drilled passage over the past several days and then bring out the workers one-by-one. The exercise is expected to take 2-3 hours wherein each worker would lie down on a wheeled stretcher that would be pulled out by through the passage using ropes.
Understandably, the mood at the site of rescue operations is upbeat.