The rescue operation at the Silkyara tunnel has entered the eighth day today with no major headway so far. The Indian Army has been roped in and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will conduct an on-site inspection of the operation today. The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12 with 40 workers trapped inside. THe workers are being given food and oxygen throw small pipes and psychological experts are talking to them through walkie-talkies. Yesterday, a top official from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) took stock of the relief operations.
While the horizontal drilling was halted after a loud noise from the machine, the rescuers are now looking towards vertical drilling to pull out the trapped workers. “We were trying to reach them horizontally, now we will also try vertically. A spot right above the tunnel has been identified and marked. A hole will be drilled from there to reach there. The depth of the hole would be approximately 300-350 feet… The horizontal attempt of rescue would also begin from Barkot end of the tunnel,” said Uttarkashi DFO DP Baluni.
The officials are ready with five different plans in case any of the plan fails.
Plan One – Drilling in the tunnel to lay pipes for the rescue operation.
Plan Two – Preparation for drilling from behind the tunnel.
Plan Three – Rescue by drilling from above the tunnel.
Plan Four – The left perpendicular cut is the fourth plan.
Plan Five – The right perpendicular cut is the fifth plan.
Yesterday, Chris Cooper, a micro-tunnelling expert, arrived at the Silkyara tunnel incident site to monitor and oversee the rescue operation. Cooper is a Chartered Engineer with an experienced track record for delivery of Major International key civil engineering infrastructure, Metro tunnels, Large Caverns, Dams, Railway, and Mining Projects.
The rescuers were trying to do horizontal drilling to lay large-diameter pipes. While they managed to lay pipes to 25 metres, the machine hit a roadblock after hitting a metal object. Also, the experts present at the site expressed fear of further collapse if the balance is not maintained during drilling. Thus, they are now looking towards vertical drilling.