New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) today said all “coordinated efforts” were being made to evacuate the stranded workforce at Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarakhand, where about 40 workers were trapped after the tunnel collapsed on October 12, 2023. The Ministry said communication with trapped workers could be established through walkie-talkies.
On November 12, 2023, at 0530 hours, about 40 workers were inside the tunnel doing reprofiling work 260 metres to 265 metres inside the tunnel from Silkyara portal when the collapse occurred at 205 metres to 260 metres from Silkyara portal and all 40 workers based on contractor tunnel entry register were trapped inside the tunnel.
The incident was immediately reported to all concerned agencies of state/central government and rescue work started with the supply of fresh air/oxygen/water/electricity/small packed food through available pipes to the trapped portion with coordinated efforts by the state administration, State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force, MoRTH, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), National Highways Authority of India, Border Roads Organisation and other state departments.
Following further measures were being taken for early evacuation and rescue of trapped workers:
- Excavation with shotcreting for 40 metres of collapse tunnel started
- Additional shotcrete machine shifted from RVNL to the work site
- The geotechnical expert from the project, authority engineer, project contractor Navyuga, geological expert from Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), director (A&F), director (technical), executive director (personnel) of NHIDCL, chief general manager of NHAI, district collector and superintendent of police, SDRF, reached and inspected the incident location and were monitoring the rescue closely.
After discussion among experts and inspection of the behaviour of the fallen muck site over the night following two actions were taken:
- Removal of loose muck continued along with shotcreting, and 21 metres of loose debris were removed. However, a “minor” fall of debris reduced the excavation to the tune of 14 metres.
- To push a 900-millimetre dia MS steel pipe with the help of a hydraulic jack to evacuate the workers trapped inside, the availability of man, material and machinery were identified and being mobilised by this evening along with experts of irrigation department
As part of Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana, MoRTH took up construction of a 4.531 km long two-lane bi-directional tunnel at Silkyara to join Gangotri and Yamunotri axis under the Radi pass in Uttarakhand and sanctioned for Total Project Cost (TPC) of Rs. 1383 crore on March 9, 2018, for implementation by its company, NHIDCL. The construction of this tunnel is meant to benefit the pilgrims by providing all-weather connectivity and reducing the 25.6 km snow-affected length of NH-134 (Dharasu-Barkot -Yamunotri road) to 4.531 km resulting in a reduction of travel time to 5 minutes which is one-tenth of 50 minutes being taken at present.
NHIIDCL engaged and signed the contract agreement with Navyuga Engineering Company Limited on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode on June 14, 2018, for Rs. 853.79 crore. The work commenced on July 9, 2018, with intended completion by July 8, 2022.
The work was delayed with the present progress of work at 56% and was now likely to be completed by May 14, 2024. At present heading in about 4060 metres, which means 90% length, was completed and excavation work for 477 metres length was going on along with other activities of benching of the heading done portion. Heading was done up to 2350 metres from the Silkyara side and up to 1710 metres from the Barkot side.
– global bihari bureau