Finally, Light at the end of Tunnel

Dear Editor,
Finally, it is light at the end of tunnel for the workers who were trapped in the Silkyara tunnel. And finally, they saw the light of the day. Round-the-clock work (400 hours of hard work by 250-member strong team) by the experts and scientists from 19 leading institutions of the country participating in the rescue effort finally yielded fruitful result not resulting in even a single fatality among the 41 trapped workers. To make the matter worse, the US-made auger machine conked out forcing the rescuers to resort to manual effort to dig through the last 10-odd metres. Rate-hole miners have succeeded where machine has failed. The lesson to be learnt here is that in such cases, another machine should be kept as a stand-by. In a situation of this kind, every minute is very precious. Horizontal tunnels are termed as “rate holes”. Rat Miners are said to be a team of experts who specialise in high speed excavation. National Disaster Management Authority member Lt. Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain has placed on record his appreciation that the rat-hole miners did a phenomenal job by digging 10 metres in less than 24 hours. Rat-hold mining is said to be illegal. But when the life of the labourers has been saved, the illegality does not matter. Saving the life even through illegality is more important than losing the life in pursuit of legality. The Army team has reportedly assisted the special team. Ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period Virgil has aptly said “Every calamity must be overcome by endurance”. Because of the Diwali festival, a large number of workers had left for celebrating festival. If the festival had not intervened, it is believed, close to 400 workers would have been trapped and the possibility of a few deaths could not have been ruled out. Experts and scientists deserve rich encomiums for their sustained efforts in bringing out all the trapped workers. The 17-day ordeal for the workers resulted in the non-availability of (good) food and (good) water. Probably, due to lack of light in the tunnel, they had felt no difference between day and night. They had virtually endured all the problems living in a very unhygienic conditions. What cannot be cured must be endured was the situation for the trapped workers until they were extricated. It is rebirth of the workers, and the joy of family members knows no bounds. The rat-hole miners have contributed their mite to save the labourers with youngest labourer leading the exit process.

K.V. Seetharamaiah

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