Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Wider pipe installed for food supply to workers; global expert visits site : The Tribune India

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Uttarkashi tunnel rescue: Wider pipe installed for food supply to workers; global expert visits site

New drilling machines on way to Silkyara tunnel | Vertical pipeline for essentials planned | Hot ‘khichdi’ sent to trapped workers

Tribune News Service

Neeraj Mohan

New Delhi, November 20

On the ninth day of the rescue operations, a six-inch pipe was pushed through the rubble of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel to supply solid food and medicines to the 41 trapped workers.

A high-performance drilling machine being brought for the rescue operation in Uttarkashi. PTI

Through this pipe, hot “khichdi” was sent to the stranded workers for the first time since they were trapped.

International tunnelling expert Arnold Dix (C) near the tunnel site. PTI

Earlier, a four-inch pipe was being used for sending dry fruits and medicines. In the section of the tunnel where the workers are stranded, electricity and water are available.

On Monday, international tunnelling expert Prof Arnold Dix visited the site. After inspecting the tunnel, he expressed optimism about the ongoing operations.

Terming the laying of the new six-inch pipeline a “new breakthrough”, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on Monday said besides supplying food and medicines, it would help in communication with the workers. The Rail Vikas Nigam is working on an additional vertical pipeline for supply of essentials to the workers.

NHIDCL Director Anshu Manish Khalkho said the DRDO had sent two robots, weighing 20 and 50 kg, to the site. “Although these robots can navigate on the ground, there are doubts about their mobility in the challenging terrain,” sources said. They further said new drilling machines were on the way and expected to arrive in a day or two at the site. Due to the substantial weight, the machines could be transported by road only, they said.

The Uttarkashi District Magistrate reported that the Border Road Organisation was constructing an approach road to the site. The road, which is likely to be completed by Tuesday morning, will help in deployment of additional machines.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said the NHIDCL would resume horizontal boring from the Silkyara end using an auger boring machine.

Meanwhile, the first machine from the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam for vertical tunnel construction had reached the site, with two others in transit from Gujarat and Odisha by road. Additionally, the Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation has initiated construction of a 480-metre rescue tunnel from the Barkot end. Machinery for vertical boring is being mobilised by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation from the US, Mumbai and Ghaziabad.

Tunnelling expert expresses optimism

  • Prof Arnold Dix, who visited the site on Monday, is president of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association
  • He has specialised knowledge in construction and operational safety & expressed optimism about the ongoing operations
  • Professor Dix has played a pivotal role in mitigating risks associated with disasters

PM takes stock of ops

PM Narendra Modi on Monday spoke to Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami on the phone to take stock of the rescue operations at the Silkyara tunnel. The PM said it was necessary to keep the morale of the trapped workers high. This was the third time that the PM Modi spoke to Dhami over the situation.

NHAI reviews safety checks at HP projects

Solan: In view of the Uttarakhand tunnel mishap, senior NHAI officials on Monday visited four tunnel construction sites on the Shimla-Solan stretch of the National Highway-5. They inspected three tunnels under the Shimla bypass project and one at Kandaghat on the Solan-Kaithlighat four-laning project.

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