Continuing their unwavering commitment to saving lives, the government is actively engaged in ongoing rescue operations at the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, where 41 workers remain trapped.
The 2 km section of the tunnel, with completed concrete work ensuring the safety of the workers, is the focus of the rescue efforts. In this secured portion of the tunnel, electricity and water supply are operational, and provisions, including food and medicines, are being delivered through a dedicated 4-inch compressor pipeline.
Various government agencies have been mobilized, each assigned specific tasks to ensure the safe evacuation of the workers. The government maintains constant communication to boost the morale of those trapped.
Key Updates on Rescue Operations:
- NHIDCL Lifeline Efforts:
- Yesterday marked a significant breakthrough as NHIDCL completed the drilling of an additional lifeline—a 6-inch diameter pipeline—for the supply of essential items.
- Video communication has been established with the stranded workforce, and efforts were made to clear debris inside the pipeline using compressed air and water pressure.
- Horizontal Boring by NHIDCL:
- NHIDCL has resumed horizontal boring from the Silkyara end to rescue workers using an Augur boring machine.
- Fabrication of a protective canopy for the drilling machine is underway, with modifications to the augur diameter and welding of the pipeline in progress.
- Vertical Drilling for Rescue by SJVNL:
- SJVNL's machine for the vertical rescue tunnel construction has arrived at the site, with installation currently underway. Machines are being transported from Gujarat and Odisha for this purpose.
- Horizontal Drilling from Barkot Side by THDCL:
- THDC has initiated the construction of a rescue tunnel from the Barkot end, with two blasts already completed, resulting in a 6.4-meter drift. Three blasts per day are planned.
- Perpendicular-Horizontal Drilling by RVNL:
- RVNL is transporting machinery for micro-tunneling through horizontal drilling to rescue laborers. Additional backup machines are being brought in from Odisha.
- Vertical Drilling Toward Barkot End by ONGC:
- ONGC is mobilizing machinery from the USA, Mumbai, and Ghaziabad for vertical boring.
- Drift Tunnel by Manual-Semi Mechanized Method by Joint Team of THDCL/Army/Coal India and NHIDCL:
- Work is underway to create a drift inside the tunnel, with a safe channel established from 180 meters to 150 meters. The Army is mobilizing box culverts for this purpose.
- Road Cutting and Supportive Work by BRO:
- BRO has rapidly constructed an approach road for vertical drilling by SJVNL within 48 hours. The work is ongoing for the approach road for ONGC, with geological surveys conducted by ONGC.
On 12th November 2023, a collapse occurred in the under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot due to debris falling in a 60-meter stretch on the Silkyara side. Immediate mobilization of resources by the State and Central Governments ensued to rescue the 41 trapped laborers.
Initially opting for a 900 mm pipe through the debris, safety concerns led to the exploration of multiple rescue options simultaneously. The area of entrapment, measuring 8.5 meters in height and 2 kilometers in length, is the built-up portion of the tunnel, offering safety to the laborers with available electricity and water supply.
Five agencies—ONGC, SJVNL, RVNL, NHIDCL, and THDCL—have been assigned specific responsibilities, working collaboratively with occasional task adjustments for operational efficiency.
Note: The timelines provided are subject to change due to technical glitches, the challenging Himalayan terrain, and unforeseen emergencies.