Drilling Stops In Tunnel After Machine Hits Metal Object

Twice In 2 Days: Drilling Stops In Tunnel After Machine Hits Metal Object

The workers have been trapped in the tunnel since November 12.

Uttarkashi:

In the second such setback in two days, drilling at the Uttarakhand tunnel where 41 labourers are trapped had to be stopped on Friday evening after the auger machine encountered a metallic object. The blades of the machine had hit a pipe on Thursday evening and drilling had resumed after 24 hours, only to be stopped again.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, senior officials had said only 10-12 metres of drilling was left for the rescuers to reach the trapped construction workers and that ground penetrating radar had revealed that there were likely to be no major metal obstacles for the next five metres.

“They (a team of ground penetrating experts) could not say this with 100% accuracy but what they are expecting is that there is no continuous metal object, like girders, pipes and metal plates, in the next 5.4 metres. They have pointed out some other hurdles, but this is good news,” Uttarakhand Secretary Neeraj Khairwal, who is the nodal officer for the rescue operation, had said.

Officials said that, with the drill stopped, efforts are being made to manually inch closer to the trapped workers but the rescue is unlikely on Friday night.

“The auger machine has encountered some difficulty again and that’s why it’s being dismantled. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to get to the trapped workers manually. We are analysing the debris and trying to figure this out,” said an official.

‘Workers Okay’

Officials said the workers are mentally stable and physically fit despite being trapped for 13 days.

“They are adequately clothed and when we speak to them, they say they will walk out on their own. That’s the kind of mental strength they have,” an official. He added that the labourers are also speaking to their families and one of the workers, who has been in such a situation before, has been helping his colleagues keep their morale high.

“The labourers are being given cut fruits, hot chapatis, daal and sabzi. These are being pushed through pipes in bottles,” the official said.

The under-construction tunnel in Uttarkashi is part of the ambitious Char Dham project, a national infrastructure initiative to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. The labourers got trapped when a portion of the tunnel had collapsed on November 12.

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