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November 18, 2023 10:55 AM IST

Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: Drilling work halted, another machine from Indore to reach today

Efforts to rescue approximately 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarakhand had to be halted after a newly introduced, high-performance drilling machine encountered a breakdown at a depth of 22 meters.

The American auger machine, employed to aid in the rescue, suffered bearing damage, suspending drilling operations at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi on November 17. This setback followed the replacement of the previous machine, damaged by a landslide, on November 16.

To overcome this setback, experts from Delhi conducted a comprehensive survey of the debris using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic reflection techniques to identify potential obstructions in the drilling path.

Efforts are underway to resume the rescue operation by airlifting an additional auger machine from Indore, expected to arrive at the site today. While the new machine can drill at a speed of 5 meters per hour, current challenges might necessitate operating at a standard pace.

This tunnel, part of the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway, collapsed on November 12, causing the delay in construction. The National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, responsible for the project, reported that excavation and concrete spraying for 40 meters of the collapsed tunnel are in progress. A cavity has formed 10 meters above the crown on both sides, and chimney formations have emerged along the tunnel.

Furthermore, an additional shotcrete machine has been relocated to the worksite, according to a statement released by the corporation on Friday.

The Silkyara Tunnel, spanning 4531 meters, is a crucial segment of the Chardham Project connecting the Gangotri and Yamunotri axis beneath the Radi pass area. Constructed by NHIDCL through Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd at a cost of Rs 853.79 crore, it holds significant importance in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ development plans.

(Inputs from ANI)

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