UTTARKASHI: As the rescue operation to save 40 trapped workers at Uttarkashi tunnel continues for the seventh day, the Indian Army has now been tasked with constructing a track to the top of the hill so that the option of reaching out to trapped workers through vertical drilling can be availed of.
Speaking to ANI, Army official Major Naman Narula said that the Indian Army has been enrolled in the Siljyara tunnel rescue operation and given the responsibility of making a track to the top of the hill. We have started the construction work and will start drilling once the construction of the track is completed.
"150 soldiers of our own company are engaged in this work, and a track of about 320 metres is to be constructed, and then 80 to 120 metres need to be drilled. "We will work on the war footing, and track construction will be completed by 9 a.m. tomorrow. Wherever trees come in between, we will cut them," said the Army official.
"As soon as the drilling work is completed, it will become easier to provide food and water, and then we will start the rescue work from the tunnel," he added.
In other rescue operations, the administration is also looking to enrol a tree-cutting expert in the ongoing rescue operation at the Silkyara tunnel incident site.
A tree-cutting expert named Ashiq Hussain has been called by the Forest Department to Silkyara Tunnel, and tree-cutting work is expected to start shortly.
Apart from that, the administration is also trying to reach the workers through vertical drilling from the upper part of the tunnel. A spot right above the tunnel has been identified and marked.
"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 whole would be approximately 300-350 feet... The horizontal attempt at rescue would also begin from the Barkot end of the tunnel," said Uttarkashi DFO DP Baluni.
While talking about the ongoing rescue operation, former advisor PMO Bhaskar Khulbe said, "Efforts are on to bolster the entire area's strength to the point that it remains totally safe for workers to approach the rescue work that we are intending to do. I feel that our concerted effort will give good results in the coming four to five days."
Chris Cooper, a micro-tuning expert, arrived at the Silkyara tunnel incident site on Saturday to monitor the rescue operation.
Earlier, Chris Cooper was a Chartered Engineer with an experienced track record for the delivery of major international key civil engineering infrastructure, including metro tunnels, large caverns, dams, railways, and mining projects.
Cooper, who is also a consultant for the Rishikesh Karnprayag rail project, has reached the site to monitor the rescue operation of 40 workers trapped inside the tunnel for six days now.
Speaking to ANI, Cooper said, "I don't have any information as of now. I reached here last night only." The heavy-duty drilling machine, which was expected to arrive today from Indore, has also reached the Silkyara tunnel site.
The under-construction tunnel between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of November 12. (ANI)