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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel - all 41 rescued !

A joyous day for the Nation -  all the  41 workers trapped underground in a tunnel in Uttarakhand's Silkyara have been rescued today. The breakthrough came after rat-miners were brought in last evening and manually dug the last stretch.  


A great moment for the Nation – time for gratitude – Nation is grateful to the concerted efforts of  our beloved PM,  Army, NDRF, SDRF, MoRTH, tunnel experts & everyone else  involved in the rescue operation of 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand. The resilience displayed by those trapped for over 17 days is an inspiration for us. Congratulations to all! 

The Silkyara Bend–Barkot tunnel was being constructed by Navayuga Engineering Construction Limited (NECL) as part of the Char Dham all-weather road project connecting four sacred sites, and it was located on the Yamunotri end of National Highway 134. That National Highway is planned to connect Dharasu on the south end to Yamunotri on the north end. The tunnel will shorten the route by about 20 kilometres (12 mi). It is planned to be 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) long.


At approximately 5:30 am on 12 November 2023, a section of the Silkyara tunnel under construction collapsed. The collapse occurred around 200 meters from the entrance of the tunnel, trapping 41 construction workers inside.  A team of geologists from the state government and educational institutions was sent to the location for analysis and rescue. Operation Zindagi was launched by the State government to save the trapped workers. Two tunnel boring machines were  deployed during the rescue efforts, the second (flown in three parts) after the progress of the first was not speedy enough The rescue team contacted the team that freed the students from the Tham Luang cave in Thailand in 2018 also. 

Drilling through the debris in the tunnel was stopped on 17 November after cracking sounds were heard. Alternative access tunnels were started parallel and adjacent to the existing main tunnel. Three pipes were drilled during the operation, one providing oxygen, one providing passage for dry food, and a 6 inches (15 cm)-wide pipe that was used to supply hot meals and allow the insertion of an endoscopic camera. 

As days progressed and as rescue operations were hit with more ordeals there was palpable tension and panic.   A few hours ago, comes the happy news that all forty-one workers  trapped inside Silkyari tunnel since November 12  have been  evacuated safely. The rescued workers were draped in orange marigold flower garlands and were greeted by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh. 

The trapped workers were pulled out through 57 metres of steel pipe on stretchers fitted with wheels. Rat-hole miners emerged as the heroes as they drilled with their hands to safely evacuate all 41 workers trapped in a collapsed Uttarakhand tunnel. The smiles on their faces hid all the exhaustion from digging in the cramped tunnel where even breathing becomes a challenge.  "The workers were so happy seeing us. They hugged us and offered us almonds," Devendra, one of the miners, told NDTV. "We cut 15 metres. We were very happy when we reached there and got a glimpse of them," said another. 

The rescuers resorted to rat-hole mining, a banned practice, after a high-tech, imported drilling machine broke down in the final stretch of the operation. The miners then began manually drilling their way to the trapped workers. After the heavy auger drilling machine broke down two days ago, the rat-hole miners retrieved the broken parts and began drilling the remaining stretch with their hands. Their escape tunnel reached the workers this evening and they were rolled out on stretchers. Meanwhile, vertical drilling was also underway as a secondary option in case the horizontal drilling faced another obstacle.


Those trapped for 17 days have undergone great ordeal and had shown exemplary resilence in keeping up their hopes – the efforts of all those involved in rescue, the planning, strategy and execution all deserves high praise.

With regards – S Sampathkumar


Red lips ! - கொவ்வை செவ்வாய் !!

கொவ்வை செவ்வாய் !!


அதரம் என்றால் உதடு - சினிமா கவிஞர்கள் இதன் சிவப்பை பலவாறாக வர்ணித்துள்ளனர்.  அவற்றில் ஒன்று கோவை வாயாள் - இது ஒன்றும் புது கற்பனையல்ல


கோவை அல்லது கொவ்வை (ivy gourd, Coccinia grandis) மருத்துவப் பயன்பாடுடைய தாவரமாகும். இக் கொடித் தாவரம் பற்றைக் காடுகள், வேலிகளில் வளர்கிறது.  இதன் பூ வெள்ளை நிறமானதாகும். இலை, காய், தண்டு, வேர் என எல்லாப் பாகங்களும் மருத்துவ குணமுடையனவாகும்.  இதன் பழங்கள் ஒரு கவனிக்கத்தக்க செந்நிறத்தில் இருக்கும். இதன் காரணமாக திருநாவுக்கரசர்  தனது பாடலில் சிவனின் வாய்நிறத்திற்கு உவமையாக இதைப் பயன்படுத்தி உள்ளார்


இங்கே நம் செல்ல அணிலின் சிவந்த நாக்கும் உதடுகளும்.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

26/11 Nation remembers horror, pain - the sacrifices !!

How much of respect do you give to a Police Constable – mostly unarmed, carries a woodenstick (lathi) and tries law enforcement !!  - heart would bleed for Tukaram Omble !


On the night of 26 November 2008, ten Kalashnikov-wielding terrorists attacked Mumbai. They stuck simultaneously at five locations, shooting dead 140 Indians and 25 foreign tourists. American and British passport-holders were executed in two luxury hotel complexes. At a Jewish cultural centre, Israeli nationals were tortured before being killed. A fourth location, a café frequented by Western backpackers, was enfiladed with automatic fire.  At the ever crowded  city’s main railway station, the site of the largest number of deaths,  all the victims were Indian.   

Treacherous cowardly terrorists waging war with the Nation killing innocents.  In the history of terrorism, the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks were as innovative as the 9/11 attacks on the US. While passenger airplanes were used for the first time as weapons of destruction during 9/11, the Mumbai attacks saw an unprecedented feature of live operational control of terrorist acts from foreign soil. 

.. .. and how shameful was the response of Indian press and to a large extent the then Government – there were live shows depicting the operations of the Commandos providing live data feed to terror handlers elsewhere !  they utilized  India’s  free electronic media for further killing and live feedback. Competitive Indian visual media covering the Mumbai attacks beamed minute-to-minute details to the domestic audience which served as a barometer of the damage inflicted on the Indian psyche and resultant panic, the two vital aims of any terrorist group. It enabled the Pakistani handlers to calibrate attacks using the cell phones of ground-level terrorists.  


US Senate Homeland Security Committee had held a hearing on the Mumbai 26/11 attack on January 9, 2009, to discuss how similar tactics would affect US security. One of the first persons to depose before the Committee was the then New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly who underlined the key features of 26/11. He said that the US counter terrorist agencies would need to rework their methodology on how panic could be curbed even in a free media ambience, how to disrupt terrorists’ communication network without adversely affecting the free milieu and how to re-deploy forces in the US since the 26/11 attacks had taken over 60 hours to terminate, a situation US had never experienced in urban areas. 

We see them in every street corner, at busy traffic intersections, some movies come ridiculing their efforts,   RED SALUTE  to them – the Army and Police are the real protectors and WE live happily and peacefully because of their sacrifices. The statue at the start is that of  Tukaram Omble, who died this day 15 years ago ! – must have been part of our history and school curriculum .. .. were you able to recognize him ?


From every angle, the Taj Palace near the Gate way of India, the imposing arch monument on the Arabic sea erected  to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder on their visit to India in 1911, prior to Delhi Durbar. The hotel preceded it – the Queen could have seen the hotel, but not the monument.  The historic Taj Mahal Palace hotel first opened its doors to guests 113 years ago, on December 16, 1903. Located in Colaba, Mumbai, the Taj Mahal hotel, or the Taj Palace hotel, was the country's first ever harbour landmark. Over the last century or so, the hotel has played host to royalty, several dignitaries, and eminent personalities from all over the world. A popular theory states that Jamshedji Tata built the hotel because he was refused entry at Watson Hotel, one of the grandest hotels of that time, which was for 'whites only.  

In the beautiful motherland, there have been debates on surgical strikes with politicians calling for proof !! -  Nation can never forget this day  26/11 when it was  under siege by militants from across the border.  How many felt sorrowed and spoke for those martyrs of Police and jawans of the motherland ??  .. .. and blatant media who were for ratings showing all the plan and movement of Army jawans !! – how mindless it was. 

The horrific memories of the night when the terrorists hijacked the police vehicle  and killed top cops and then went on shooting innocents haunts people.  The illustrious   Bhaskar Kadam, Hemant Bawdhankar, Sanjay Govilkar, Tukaram Omble,  Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte ,  Vijay Salaskar, Shashank Shinde, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Hawaldar Gajendra Singh – and the like should be the heroes whom the Nation must be reading and knowing.  There were so many unsung heroes too – for example the Fire Service of Mumbai whose personnel did not flinch once as they grabbed their gear and rushed to douse fire amid an intense gun battle.  

The unexpected capture of Ajmal Kasab by the Mumbai police by the heroism of Tukaram Omble  during the night of 26 November 2008 robbed the plan of its key asset – deniability. Kasab provided details of the training process that the gunmen had gone through in Pakistan. The next breakthrough was Headley’s arrest 11 months later.  Kasab was immediately questioned by Prashant Marde, an officer of the Mumbai police.  The gunman confirmed that there were nine other shooters in the city, and stated that all were Pakistani nationals. Aware of the international ramifications of these revelations, the Indian government permitted the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to interrogate Kasab directly. A team of FBI officials flew in from New York to learn what they could about the attack.  Kasab independently confirmed to the FBI what he had told the Indian police: he was a Pakistani citizen and a member of LeT, and the attack was being directed in real-time from the Pakistani port city of Karachi via mobile and internet telephony. This digital trail connecting the gunmen in Mumbai with controllers in Karachi proved crucial. 

India has had its deep impact because of this terror attack but still once a while some would rise their voice for the neighbouring terror abettor, stating that Sports are different and people must learn to forget ! – forget what.  

The abettor too is reeling under terrorism that they sought to grow.  The recent suicide attack on a Rabiul Awwal congregation in the Balochistan town left almost 60 people dead. At least five people were killed in a targeted attack in KP on the same day, swelling the number of fatalities.

It was one of the bloodiest days of the current year that has already recorded the highest number of casualties among security forces in the past eight years. Terrorist attacks have become almost a daily affair. The return of terrorism presents a most serious challenge to a nation mired in multiple crises. The spate of killings across the country demonstrates the expanding capacity of militant groups to carry out increasingly audacious operations. While the administration silently watches the situation drift toward anarchy, armed marauders carry out their deadly attacks with impunity. The pattern and scale of violence indicate that the militants are better armed than before and well organised.   

Miles away, in a US court, according to Headley’s testimony, he had been trained by the ISI in intelligence collection techniques. Of the $29,500 he received from Pakistani sponsors, $28,500 came from a serving ISI officer. This officer, identified as ‘Major Iqbal’ in American court documents, became the first Pakistani intelligence operative to ever be indicted by the US government for terrorism. The remainder of the money came to Headley from a LeT operative called Sajid Majeed,  deputy head of LeT’s external operations department and handled jihadists worldwide.  US Govt  convicted Headley on US soil but refused to extradite him to India.   

Nation still nurses its wounds of that unfortunate day in 2008 when  10 Pakistani terrorists arrived by sea route and opened fire indiscriminately at people killing 166, including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others, besides damaging property worth crores.  The attack began on 26 November and lasted until 29 November. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community centre were some of the places targeted by the terrorists. Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist captured alive. He was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012. 

26.11.2008  – a sad day it was for the Nation.!
High respects and regards to our heroes – S. Sampathkumar
26.11. 2023 

Chittu Kuruvi is tiny !! - how big are we !?!?

                        நான் யார் தெரியுமா !  - பல மனிதர்கள், அகங்காரத்துடனும் ஆணவத்துடனும் ஆத்திரம் கொப்பளிக்க கேட்கும் கேள்வி !? 

என் கண்மணி, உன் காதலி,  இள மாங்கனி,

உன்னை பார்த்ததும் சிரிக்கின்றதேன்

என சிவகுமாரும் சுமித்ராவும் சிகப்பு வண்ண பல்லவன் பஸ்ஸில் டூயட் பாட, 'தேனாம்பேட்டை சூப்பர் மார்க்கெட் இறங்கு' என கண்டக்டர் குரல் கூட ஒலிக்க - இளையராஜா இசையில்  ஒலித்த பாடல் இடம் பெற்ற படம் 'சிட்டுக்குருவி".  நாம் அன்றாடம் காணும் இந்த பறவை -  சிட்டு குருவி -   சிட்டுக்குருவி ஒரு சிறிய பறவை !

சிறியது - நாம் காணும் உயிரினங்களில், நம்மை விட மிக சிறிய உடற்கூறு படைத்தது இந்த பறவை.  ஒவ்வொரு மனிதனும் அன்றாட வாழ்க்கையில் உண்டு உறங்கும்  போது தன்னைப் பற்றிய நினைவு இருப்பதில்லை, ஆழ்ந்த உறக்கத்தில் மறந்தும் விழித்த பின் "நான்" "எனது" உணர்வு உதிக்கிறது. உறங்கும் போது "நான்" என்கிற உணர்வு எங்கே போகிறது. ஆனால்  தான் பிறர் முன்னிலையில் பெரியவர் என்று காட்டிக்கொள்ள கேட்கும் கேள்வி, வெளிப்படும் மனோநிலை தான் -  "நான் யார்" ?  

                           Milky Way  is the galaxy that includes the Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy's appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye.    

In ‘Crazy thieves in Palavakkam’ drama – a middle class family (in 1970s) would build a small house in the outskirts of Chennai in an area called Palavakkam (now a richman’s place)  - they would be gleeful when they see another house in distance and more so, when an odd man walks on the street ! ~  who lives next door ? 0r whether there is life nearby has always a great curiosity of mankind !!  

So is there life nearby ! – in the nearest gruha  (not as nearby home but nearby galaxy !) .. ..  a  Galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter.    Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million (108) stars to giants with one hundred trillion  stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass.     

Man is a tiny tot in earth .. to understand how big is Universe, we need to understand its size.  The observable universe is a ball-shaped region of the universe comprising all matter that can be observed from Earth or its space-based telescopes and exploratory probes at the present time; the electromagnetic radiation from these objects has had time to reach the Solar System and Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. Initially, it was estimated that there may be 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe.  That number was reduced in 2021 to only several hundred billion based on data from New Horizons   

The comoving distance from Earth to the edge of the observable universe is about 14.26 gigaparsecs (46.5 billion light-years or 4.40×1026 m) in any direction. The observable universe is thus a sphere with a diameter of about 28.5 gigaparsecs  (93 billion light-years or 8.8×1026 m).     

Currently, the area of Chennai is 1,189 sq km,  India covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south.  Earth's widest point is the equator, which runs across the planet's center at zero degrees latitude.   According to NASA, Earth's radius at the equator is 3,963 miles (6,378 kilometers), while the radius at the poles is 3,950 miles (6,356 km).  The surface area of Earth is about 197 million square miles (510 million square kilometers).   Earth is the fifth-largest planet in the solar system, behind Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.  With a diameter of 86,881 miles (139,822 km), Jupiter — the largest planet in the solar system — is 11 times wider than Earth.  

Our earth is a tiny tot in the Universe, part of a galaxy.  For starters, the Milky Way is really, really big! Not only does it measure some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter and about 1,000 light-years thick, but up to 400 billion stars are located within it  !!!   our galaxy is only a middle-weight when compared to other galaxies in the local Universe. Andromeda, the closest major galaxy to our own, is about twice as large as our own. It measures 220,000 light years in diameter, and has an estimated 400-800 billion stars within it.

Well somewhere I lost track of comparison – and yet we call others tinytots!!  - some stray thoughts from Aasami Sirippu Sinthanaiyaan  on a rainy Sunday !

With regards – S Sampathkumar