Uttarakhand tunnel rescue operation will take some more days even weeks as rescuers are now exploring different alternatives.
With the US-made auger equipment breaking down, the rescuers started vertical drilling in the Silyara Uttarakhand tunnel on Sunday. With the Indian Army joining the mission, which has been ongoing for the past 15 days, the rescuers now have six plans in place. Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), a member of the National Disaster Management Authority, stated on Sunday that the 41 workers stranded in the tunnel under construction are receiving food and medication and are in good health. Through the communication channels, they stay in regular contact with their relatives. Together, the rescue teams are investigating other options as vertical drilling advanced significantly on Sunday.
Plan A: After auger machine parts are retrieved, horizontal manual drilling
According to the NDMA member, plan A—which calls for human drilling after the auger machine’s damaged pieces are removed—would be the best option. The machine jammed, causing the blade to come off. The instrument needed to cut the blade has been transported by the Indian Air Force and an IndiGo leased flight. By evening, the damaged components should be removed.
Once every component of the auger machine has been removed from the Uttarakhand tunnel, manual digging will begin. This will be a gradual process that serves as a failsafe. Within the tunnel, the auger machine has already dug 47 meters. After that, the last fifteen meters will be dug out by hand. Following the completion of the drilling, an 800-mm pipe will be inserted first; if it does not fit, a 700-mm pipe will be inserted.
Plan B: Vertical drilling
Out of the 86 meters that are the goal, 15 meters have already been reached in the vertical drilling plan B. Vidyut Nigam of Satluj Jal is doing this. If it works, each employee will be raised by buckets one at a time. Experts say that this is the second-best choice.
Plan C: Sideways drilling
The rescuers’ third strategy is to dig sideways, however work on this plan has not yet begun because the necessary equipment has not arrived at the scene.
Plan D: ONGC will drill vertically from the Barkot side.
The Silkyara side of the Uttarakhand tunnel is where the vertical drilling started on Sunday, but the rescuers intend to drill down the other side as well. In order to complete the 24-inch vertical drilling on the Barkot side, the BRO is building a 5-kilometer road. This will remain a possibility.
Plan E: Blasting on Barkot side
The member of the NDMA clarified that an area of 10 to 12 meters had been penetrated during Sunday morning’s blasting on the Barkot side of the tunnel.
Plan F: Drift technology
According to Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), the sixth plan calls for scrapping the Uttarakhand tunnel’s sides and using drift technology. Engineers from the Army will handle it.