Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Might have a timeline soon, says Syed Ata Hasnain | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Might have a timeline soon, says Syed Ata Hasnain

ByVrinda Tulsian
Nov 27, 2023 06:41 PM IST

Giving an update on the condition of the trapped workers, Hasnain said that they getting and are also able to speak with their families and the rescue team.

Rescue operations at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, where 41 workers remain trapped, are going very well and under control, Lieutenant General (retd.) Syed Ata Hasnain, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said at a press briefing in New Delhi on Monday.

Uttarkashi tunnel site (File Photo)
Uttarkashi tunnel site (File Photo)

He said that they are evaluating the progress being made and might have a timeline for the rescue operation soon. “We will evaluate the speed of progress by this evening to estimate the timeline,” he said.

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Giving an update on the condition of the trapped workers, Hasnain said that they getting and are also able to speak with their families and the rescue team.

Assuring the workers’ well-being and emphasized, “No harm to physical or mental health is being caused.”

Workers are being provided with power, oxygen, food, medicine and communication lines to family members and psychosocial therapists, he said.

Also Read: Geological report on tunnel shows weak rock, slip circle failure near Silkyara

To ensure the mental and physical well-being of the workers, robotics expert Milind Raj is implementing indigenous technology to monitor the mental well-being of the trapped workers. Their mental health will be assessed by robots equipped to detect hazardous gases like methane. The system will provide internet access and monitor health from a distance of 100 meters.

Addressing the media, he said that the obstruction, including stuck-up augurs, has been removed from the rescue pipe and now a manual drift procedure will be applied to cover the remaining 15-metre distance. He said that two teams of three persons in each team have been formed. Rain will not affect to rescue operation.

Hasnain added, “Vertical drilling is underway. Commencing with 110 meters to dig, the machine has already covered 30-32 meters. The auger machine failed in horizontal drilling, necessitating the vertical drilling machine’s deployment. Once drilling concludes, an airlift using a chopper and harness rope is planned for their rescue.”

The vertical drilling in the collapsed section of the Uttarkashi tunnel began Sunday, with the agencies exploring multiple plans on the 16th day of the operations. The manual drilling of the tunnel has been started to prepare an escape passage for the trapped workers.

Breaking down the rescue plans, Hasnain said that some progress has been made and the strategies are in place. Commenting on the Silkyara horizontal tunnel drilling method, he remarked, “Stuck auger blades have been removed, enabling army engineers, rat miners, and technicians to start manual drilling.”

Regarding the vertical drilling by Sutlej Jal Vidyut, he said, “Progress of 30-32 meters has been achieved, with an established 6-8 inch bore pipeline by RVNL aiding in soil condition estimation.”

Commenting on the perpendicular tunnel drilling, Hasnain said, “The machinery is en route. It is heavy machinery, so it will take time, but arrangements for the required water have been made.”

Regarding Barkot vertical drilling by ONGC, Hasnain stated, “Track preparation for 24-inch vertical drilling is complete, but the rig work is pending.”

On the horizontal drilling towards Barkot, he said, “The 5th blast was conducted last evening, and the 6th blast occurred today, clearing 12 meters. However, caution is essential to prevent collapse in a sensitive area.”

Lastly, on the drifting method, he stated, “It is a contingency plan awaiting implementation if other plans fail.”

Hasnain further informed that an inspection was also carried out within the tunnel by Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Uttarakhand chief secretary SS Sandhu, and principal secretary to the Prime Minister, Pramod Kumar Mishra.

“They visited horizontal and vertical drilling sites, engaging with various officials, international experts, and agencies like NHAI, Rail Vikaas Ltd, Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, TERI, BRO, GSI, ONGC, and private entities,” he added.

The officials also interacted with the 41 trapped workers, ensuring the allocation of all necessary resources, he said.

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