Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will meet with the resilient rat miners who rescued 41 workers trapped in Silkyara tunnel for 17 days. CM Kejriwal will meet them at his residence at 4 pm today.
Among the 12-member team who saved 41 workers by digging through the final 15 metres of debris in the Uttarkashi Tunnel rescue are workers working for the Delhi Jal Board who lay pipelines and sewers. Rescuers resorted to rat-hole mining, a prohibited practice in the country, when heavy machinery failed to drill through the debris in the Silkyara tunnel that had trapped 41 workers.
In rat hole mining, workers dig very small tunnels through which coal or debris are extracted. Vakeel Hasan, leader of the rat mining rescue team, described the moment when the miners saw the workers in a way similar to offering water to someone about to die from thirst.
“It was a very emotional feeling when we saw them and they saw us. It was like a person getting some water on a deserted land. It was like everyone accomplished their purposes. We fulfilled the commitment that we made… All the workers came out of the tunnel without a scratch” Hassan told ANI after the successful rescue. Rat-hole miners emerged as the heroes as they drilled with their hands to safely evacuate all workers The miners had installed a pipe to 18 meters to reach the trapped miners.
“We installed a pipe till 18 meters… Munna and I are partners, and the other 10 are workers… actually, we had to dig for 15 meters but when we couldn’t reach the workers, we dug more three meters….In the pipe, we started the ‘chuha boring’ technique- this is the same way, a rat digs the soil. The way it pushes the soils behind it and then proceeds, this is the same technique,” Hasan Vakeel hassan had told ANI. Since 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned rat-mining due to its hazardous working conditions and numerous accidents leading to injuries and fatalities.
Over 60 meters of broken rock, concrete, and twisted metal blocked the 41 workers’ only exit from the tunnel they were helping build in Uttarakhand on November 12 when it gave way. After a series of agonizing setbacks during which rescue efforts were halted when heavy drills meant to break through debris broke down, workers had to adopt riskier methods to rescue the first workers.