Looking Very Positive: Global Tunnelling Expert Joins Uttarakhand Rescue Op

Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand: As part of the efforts to rescue the 41 workers trapped at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site, International Tunnelling Expert Arnold Dix conducted an inspection at the tunnel site on Monday. The International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association president, Arnold Dix, arrived at the location site in Silkyara, Uttarkashi, to aid in the rescue efforts and expressed optimism on the prospects of rescue and relief operations that are underway. After inspecting the tunnel as well as the area above it from where the vertical drilling operation will commence, Professor Dix seemed optimistic about the rescue operation. “It is looking good but we have to decide whether it’s good or a trap, because it’s looking very positive. I have got the best experts for this Himalayan geology here, I’m just one” Professor Dix said. “We are going back to the office to talk about what we’ve seen and we need to compare about what we have seen here above the tunnel with what we know about what is happening in the tunnel. This actually helps us make the proper decision because we are rescuing those 41 men and we are not letting anyone get hurt while we’re doing that but to that, we need to be very careful,” he added. Arnold Dix is working alongside multiple agencies that have mounted a four pronged approach to the rescue operation. One of the options that is being worked on is drilling vertically from above the tunnel face. “I need to see what’s going on underneath, I need to go look down at the bottom, it’s like any complex job you need to check all around it, and discuss it, but at the moment it’s looking very positive” Professor Dix said. “What I know is that something is going to happen. Things are happening, the team here is so focused on the rescue and so focused that no one is hurt that we are taking our time to make the very best decisions we can with the information we got, knowing that time is peaking,” he added. Arnold Dix also offered prayers at the temple that has been set up by the various agencies at the mouth of the tunnel. Dix specialises in underground and transportation infrastructure – from construction risk to more technical issues associated with the actual safety performance from an operational safety perspective. He also provides advise on risks associated with underground construction and is widely recognised as the World’s leading expert on underground tunnelling. Meanwhile, efforts to rescue the 41 trapped workers at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site continue for the ninth day. The Uttrakhand Government and the centre is keeping constant communication and making all efforts to keep up the morale of the labourers trapped in the 2 km built tunnel portion. Electricity and water are available in this portion of the tunnel and labourers are provided food items such as channa, murmure, dryfruits and medicines etc. through 4-inch compressor pipeline. National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is creating another 6-inch pipeline for food. For this pipe drilling of 39 meter out of 60 meter is completed. Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) is working on another vertical pipeline for supply for essential items. Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has completed an approach road for facilitating RVNL. NHIDCL will also continue to drill from Silkyara end after working safety arrangements. The Army has prepared the box culvert to facilitate this. Further, Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corporation (THDC) will start work of micro tunnelling from Barkot end for which heavy machinery has been mobilised. Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) will do the vertical drilling to rescue the trapped labourers. Accordingly, equipment has been mobilized from Gujarat and Odisha. ONGC has also started the initial work for vertical drilling from Barkot end. BRO has already started approach road for mobilization machines of ONGC and SJVNL. Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and discussed the ongoing operations to rescue the 41 workers who have been trapped since last week in the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. On November 12 it was reported that collapse occurred in under construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot due to muck fallen in 60-meter stretch in Silkyara side of tunnel trapping 41 workers. It was decided to lay a 900 mm pipe through the muck as it was the fastest possible solution. However, on November 17, because of ground movement it became unsafe to continue with this option. It was then decided to move on multiple fronts together. Five options were decided and five different agencies were detailed to carry out these options.

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