New Delhi: The government said on Sunday that as rescue operation continues for the eighth day to save the lives of 41 workers trapped at Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) will do vertical drilling to rescue the labourers for which equipment have been mobilised from Gujarat and Odisha through Indian Railways.
The government also said that ONGC, having expertise in deep drilling, has started the initial work for vertical drilling from the Barkot end.
Secretary in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Anurag Jain, said that a decision has been taken to implement a five-option action plan to rescue the 41 trapped workers.
Jain said that on November 12, it was reported that the collapse occurred in under construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot due to muck falling in the 60m stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel.
He said that after the incident, the Uttarakhand government, and the Centre mobilised resources for the rescue of the 41 trapped labourers.
It was decided to lay a 900 mm pipe through the muck as it was the best and fastest possible solution as per the experts’ advice.
“However, on November 17, because of ground movement, it became unsafe to continue with this option without securing the structure,” he said, adding that considering the lives involved, it was decided to move on all possible fronts together so that the workers can be rescued as early as possible.
He said that five agencies — Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Sutluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDCL) — have been assigned responsibilities to rescue the trapped labourers.
Equipment have been mobilised from Gujarat and Odisha through Railways, considering that they could be airlifted given their weight (75 tonnes).
Jain said the area in which the workers are trapped is 8.5m high and 2 km long.
“This is the built up portion of the tunnel where concreting work has been done to provide safety to the labourers. Electricity and water are are also available in this portion of the tunnel,” he said.
For food, the workers are provided items such as channa, murmure, dryfruits along with medicines through four-inch compressor pipeline.
Jain further said that NHIDCL is creating another six-inch pipeline for food, and drilling of 39m out of 60m has been completed.
He also said that RVNL has started working on another vertical pipeline for supply for essential items after the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) completed building an approach road in just one day
NHIDCL will continue to drill from the Silkyara end, he said.
“To facilitate this, the Army has prepared the box culvert. A canopy framework is being made to ensure workers’ safety. Work of pipeline laying will recommence on Monday,” Jain said.
“TheTehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation (THDC) shall start work of micro tunnelling from the Barkot end for which heavy machinery has already been mobilised,” he added. IANS