Two weeks after the suspension of the rescue operation at the collapsed tunnel of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project on National Highway 21, stabilising the loose strata will take another 10 days.
The tunnel had caved in on September 12 trapping three workers. While two workers, Satish Tomar and Mani Ram, were rescued after a nine-day rescue operation, the whereabouts of the third worker, Hirday Ram, are unknown as the rescue operation was halted temporarily on September 23.
The operation was suspended due to water ingress and cracks developing in the tunnel in wake of intense drilling work to rescue the two workers.
Now, to reinforce the cracks and stabilise the loose soil, the engineers have started grouting (application of liquid concrete to fill gaps). A mixture of water, cement, sand and sometimes fine gravel, grout, when mixed and applied correctly, creates a waterproof seal.
Grouting began after a team of experts from IIT Roorkee, who inspected the spot, advised that only grouting would strengthen the loose strata.
Official sources said Hirday Ram’s family had been continuously pressing the administration for his rescue.
Bilaspur deputy commissioner Manasi Sahay Thakur said work on stabilising the top of the mountain would take another 10 days. It would be followed by stabilisation from within the tunnel, after which the debris would be removed to extricate Hirday Ram.