Durapur (West Bengal): In a significant development, the Ministry of Coal has initiated efforts to retrieve a 34-year-old report on borehole drilling from Coal India Limited (CIL). This historical document, dating back to 1989, was pivotal in the successful rescue of 65 workers from the Mahavir mine. The current endeavour is aimed at utilising the lessons learned from the past to rescue 41 workers trapped for nine days in a collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand.
Coal India Limited (CIL) has been actively engaged in this rescue mission, with the Ministry of Coal reaching out to the company for the crucial report. CIL, in response, has pledged complete cooperation, assuring the provision of all necessary information to facilitate the rescue operation. Inspired by the effectiveness of the Mahavir mine rescue method, the Ministry of Coal is keen on exploring the feasibility of applying the same technique to free the workers trapped in the Uttarkashi tunnel.
To bolster these efforts, Coal India has also contacted the Director of CIL, ensuring coordination and collaboration. The Director, in turn, has committed full support and readiness to provide any required assistance for the rescue mission. In parallel, the Ministry has involved the expertise of the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), dispatching a team to assess the situation on-site.
In an additional show of solidarity, Coal India has reached out to Integrated Support and Logistics (ISL) for assistance in the Uttarkashi rescue operation. ISL's Technical Director, Niladri Roy, stated that they are exploring the possibility of employing a similar drilling method as used in the Mahavir mine.
Speaking on the occasion, Niladri Roy said, "They are considering a plan to use a similar drilling method in Uttarkashi tunnel as was employed in Mahavir mine. They are in contact with Coal India regarding the drill machine used in Mahavir mine, and a team from CMPDI is on-site for assessment.” "ISL is fully prepared to provide all kinds of assistance for the rescue operation from our end," he added.
Discussions with Coal India regarding the specific drill machine employed in the past are underway, and a team from CMPDI is actively assessing the situation at the Uttarkashi site. Roy emphasized ISL's preparedness to offer comprehensive assistance for the rescue operation.
The Uttarkashi tunnel collapse has evoked memories of a similar incident at Mahavir mine in Raniganj over three decades ago. The parallels between the two incidents, separated by time but connected by circumstance, underscore the need for a broader discussion on the safety of mine workers nationwide.
In 1989, the Mahavir mine in Raniganj witnessed a traumatic event as 65 miners found themselves trapped. A night shift operation in mining sections 21 and 42 took a harrowing turn when water infiltrated the tunnel during dynamite blasting. The collapse of walls from an adjacent British-era abandoned mine, containing stored water, resulted in a devastating mishap. Approximately 11 lakh gallons of water flooded the Mahavir mine, claiming the lives of six miners. While some workers managed to escape, 65 others were left stranded inside the mine, drawing a stark parallel to the current plight of 40 workers in the Uttarkashi tunnel.
The haunting echoes of the Mahavir mine incident resonate with the ongoing situation in Uttarkashi. The urgency of the rescue mission prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally inquire about the progress from Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. As the nation watches and waits, the Ministry of Coal, Coal India Limited, ISL, and CMPDI are working collectively, drawing from past experiences to secure the safe rescue of the trapped workers in Uttarkashi.