India

‘Hard rock formation hampering rescue efforts’

The hardened rock around the abandoned borewell, in which two-year-old Sujith Wilson remains trapped, is hampering rescue efforts and posing a challenge even to the best of the drilling and mining equipment deployed in the mission, Commissioner of Revenue Administration J. Radhakrishnan has said.

The presence of the hardened rock, comprising quartz and feldspar, meant that the high-powered, German-made machine could drill only 280-500 cm an hour. At this pace, it would take no less than 12 hours to reach a depth of 98 feet, unless there was some change in the composition of the ground beneath, Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

He, however, made it clear that the rescue efforts will not be abandoned. “In such rescue missions, the technical team will never call it quits. But at the same time, we cannot give false hopes,” he said.

Dr. Radhakrishnan’s remarks came close on the heels of Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar’s assertion that the time had come to “make a decision”, and that the authorities were now exploring options. “We did not anticipate the rock being so hard. Even the high-powered rigs have struggled to break through the rock. We have just reached about 40 feet [till Monday morning], and the work has not progressed as planned. We have now reached a stage where we have to take a decision,” the Minister had said.

Dr. Radhakrishnan indicated that the options were limited. All technically possible efforts were being made to rescue the child. Contrary to the criticism from certain quarters, coordinated efforts were being made in a professional manner, he added.

The ‘clamping technique’ was tried initially, and the authorities later resorted to the drilling of a passage with the support of highly experienced mining experts from ONGC, NLC and L&T. The drilling was no

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