ANI Photo | “Manual drilling inside Uttarkashi Tunnel about to start anytime soon”: Officials

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Member Vishal Chauhan on Monday informed that the work of the manual drilling inside the Uttarkashi Tunnel can start anytime soon in the upcoming hours adding that a team of six members have been formed in this regard.
Addressing a press briefing in New Delhi, NHAI member Vishal Chauhan said, “Manual drilling is about to start soon at any point. The damaged pipe has been taken out. Now the preparations for manual drilling will start. There will be a team of six members who will work in groups of three. There are sensors to monitor movement inside the earth.”
Officials informed that the 41 workers trapped inside the tunnel are stable and safe.
Also, National Disaster Management Authority Member, Lt General (Rtd) Syed Ata Hasnain on Monday that currently, the situation inside the tunnel is under control.
“Things are under control. Food and medicine are going inside as per requirements. Psychological aspects are also given importance. Backup communications have been established. Our plan two was vertical drilling. Now approximately 30 metres have been achieved,” he said.
NDMA member further informed that the broken blades of the auger machine have been fully retrieved.
“The broken blades of the auger machine that were not completely retrieved yesterday have been fully retrieved in the morning today. There were some obstacles while doing so, but the damage has now been fixed. Now, the manual technique will be employed tonight with the help of Indian Army engineers, rat miners, and other technicians,” he said.
He also assured that the safety of the workers is the utmost priority in the rescue operations.
“Safety is being focused on a lot. As per a meteorological report, a yellow alert is there from IMD which means light rains can occur. But there is no possibility that work will be hindered because of this. I want to once again give assurance that all the stranded workers will be rescued,” he said.
Earlier today, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) Managing Director Mahmood Ahmad informed that the work of the vertical drilling at Uttarkashi tunnel where 41 workers remained trapped will be completed by November 30.
Addressing a press conference in Uttarkashi, Mahmood Ahmad said, “We have completed around 30 meters of drilling. The current machine that has been deployed can drill around 40-45 meters. We have brought two more machines for this purpose. SJVNL has brought those machines. Changeover machines will take time. We are expecting vertical drilling work would be completed by November 30.”
Earlier today, prayers were being offered at the main entrance of the tunnel where rescue operations to bring out the trapped workers are underway.
Also, Neeraj Khairwal, Secretary, Uttarakhand Government said that Principal Secretary to PMO PK Mishra instructed that the health of the trapped workers should be monitored from time to time.
“Today, Principal Secretary PK Mishra from PMO paid a visit. Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary and other officials paid a visit. Principal Secretary said that safety and security are important. He said that care should be taken of people stranded inside. Their health should be monitored,” he said.
Earlier today, a delegation led by Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Pramod Kumar Mishra took stock of ongoing efforts to rescue 41 trapped workers in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi on the 16th day of the operations.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu along with Pramod Kumar Mishra inspected the work inside the tunnel.The Principal Secretary also enquired about the food items sent to the workers trapped inside the tunnel. PK Mishra also spoke to the trapped workers and their families.
Meanwhile, Micro tunnelling expert Chris Cooper said earlier today that all the debris from the auger machine has been removed and manual drilling to reach the trapped labourers will start in a few hours.
After a portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel trapped 41 labourers inside the under-construction structure

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