By Linus Garg
First publised on 2023-11-29 06:48:48
In an unprecedented and massive operation, multiple agencies working tirelessly for the last 17 days rescued the 41 mine workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand. All the workers were found fit apart from high blood pressure levels (due, perhaps, to the anxiety of being trapped) in some. They were examined inside the tunnel by a team of doctors and paramedics. The entire team broke into cheers when the first trapped worker, Vijay Horo, was wheeled out of the tunnel in a stretcher and the nation heaved a sigh of relief.
The rescue team faced many hurdles during the entire operation mainly due to machine breakdown and the risk involved in the drilling leading to further collapse. But at every stage, those leading the operation devised multi-pronged strategies to overcome the hurdles. The delay in rescuing the workers was mainly because of the hurdles. But the biggest achievement of the rescue team was to get food and water inside, keep the lines of communication open with the trapped workers and keep them in good humour and hopeful about the rescue operations. The PMO was also involved after a few days of the rescue operations.
The rescue operation was a lesson in how great things can be achieved if experts from concerned fields apply their minds and come together to conduct an operation of this scale. The auger machines, first sourced locally and then the US-made ones that were airlifted to the site, which were expected to make things easy by fast and accurate drilling, were relatively ineffective (although they did drill through a major stretch)as they encountered many setbacks like ramming into an iron girder or their blades getting stuck in the rubble. Finally, the last stretch of around 12 metres was excavated by the so called 'rat-hole' miners - workers who are experts in manually burrowing through narrow stretches. Their contribution to the entire operation was huge and many experts have hailed it as an 'extraordinary' feat.