On November 12, 41 laborers working in Silkyara Tunnel were trapped in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It was 5.30 in the morning and the workers were working in the tunnel, when suddenly a landslide occurred, a part of the tunnel collapsed. The tunnel got blocked and 41 laborers got trapped in it. Experts were called from abroad to evacuate the workers, work was done with big machines, but due to some reason or the other the operation kept coming to a halt. Where even big machines failed, human hands came in handy and for the first time in 17 days, we succeeded in reaching the workers.
Rat hole mining is also included in all the efforts being made to evacuate the workers. Small teams of 12 miners were sent inside. One miner would dig the soil, another would clean the debris and the third would throw the debris out. In this way the tunnel was gradually dug and a pipe of 800 mm diameter was delivered to the workers. Now just waiting for the workers to be brought out. Let us know how 12 miners were working to save 41 lives.
Know how the experts worked
Rat hole mining expert Rakesh Rajput said before starting the work that 12 people were sent into the tunnel in teams of three people each. One member of each team excavated inside the tunnel, the second collected the excavation debris and the third took out the debris using a trolley. Miner Mohan Rai told that he has been doing this work for years. He told that during the process, the team members will dig by hand and collect debris. Another expert of rat hole mining said that he can complete the work of taking out the debris of 10 meter tunnel in 20 hours. Rat hole mining work was started on Monday (27 November) and the work was completed the next day around 3 o’clock.
When the machine broke down, they resorted to rat mining.
Excavation work was being done in the tunnel with the auger machine, but due to the machine breaking down, the work had to be stopped midway. Then resort to rat hole mining was taken. In this process, miners do the digging work by hand. Although this process is a bit lengthy, it proved effective in the Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue Operation. Drilling up to 48 meters was done with the auger machine and the remaining 10-12 meters of excavation and debris removal was done through rat hole mining. Till the time of writing the news, the workers are trapped 60 meters away.
Why is rat hole mining banned?
Rat hole mining was mostly used to extract coal in Meghalaya, but in the year 2018, the National Green Tribunal had banned it. 15 coal pits were washed away due to river water entering a mine in Luthari village of East Jaintia Hills district. The miners were trapped and died. NGT banned this process, terming it dangerous and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on the state government for illegal mining.
Experts were called for rat hole mining
Neeraj Khairwal, Additional Secretary of Uttarakhand Government and State Nodal Officer of Rescue Operation, said that as the miners will work on digging the tunnel and removing the debris. Along with that the pipe will be taken inside the tunnel. The people who have been called for this work are experts in tunnel and rat hole mining. Trenchless Engineering Services Private Limited and Navyug Engineers Private Limited had called two teams for this work. There are 5 people in one team and 7 people in the other team.
Silkyara Tunnel is part of the Char Dham Byway project worth one and a half billion dollars.
Mehmood Ahmed, managing director of tunnel construction company NHIDCL, said that all these are trained people, who can work in every situation, so there is no need to worry. This tunnel project is part of the $1.5 billion Char Dham Highway project. This project is an ambitious project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through which work is going on to connect four religious places of Hindus with an 890 kilometer long road.
Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: How to convince angry Baba Boukhnag? By doing this work, I found a way to save 41 lives.