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Efforts on to evacuate stranded workforce at Silkyara Tunnel collapse site

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, NOV 14, 2023: AS part of Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has taken up construction of 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 TPC of Rs. 1383 Crore on 9th March 2018 for implementation by its company M/s National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL). The construction of this tunnel will immensely benefit the pilgrims as it will provide an all-weather connectivity and reduce 25.6 km snow affected length of NH-134 (Dharasu-Barkot -Yamunotri road) to 4.531 km resulting in reduction of travel time to 5 min i.e. one tenth of 50 min being taken at present.

M/s NHIIDCL has engaged and signed the contract agreement with M/s Navyuga Engineering Company Limited on EPC mode on 14 th June 2018 for Rs. 853.79 Crore. The work commenced on 9 th July 2018 with intended completion by 8 th July 2022. The work is delayed with present progress of work at 56% and likely to be completed by 14 th May 2024. At present heading in about 4060 m i.e. 90% length is completed and excavation work for 477 m length is going on along with other activities of benching etc of heading done portion. Heading is done up to 2350 m from Silkyara side and up to 1710 m from Barkot side.

On 12 th November 2023 at 0530 hrs about 40 workers were inside the tunnel doing reprofiling work 260m to 265m inside the tunnel from Silkyara portal when a    collapse occurred at 205m to 260 m from Silkyara portal and all 40 workers based on contractor tunnel entry register trapped inside the tunnel.

Incident was immediately reported to all concerned agencies of state/central government and rescue work started with supply of fresh air/oxygen/water/electricity/small packed food through available pipes to the trapped portion with coordinated efforts by state administration, SDRF/NDRF, MoRTH/NHIDCL/NHAI/BRO and other state departments. Communication with trapped workers has also been established through walkie talkies. Following further measures are taken for early evacuation/rescue of trapped workers: 

i. Excavation with shotcreting for 40 meter of collapse tunnel started

ii. Additional shotcrete machine shifted from RVNL to work site

iii. Geotechnical Expert from project Authority Engineer, project contractor M/s Navyuga, Geological Expert from RVNL, Director (A&F)/Director(T)/Executive Director(P) of NHIDCL, CGM NHAI, District Collector and SP SDRF reached and inspected the incident location and monitoring the rescue closely.

iv. After discussion among experts and inspection of behaviour of fallen muck site over the night following two actions are being taken:

a. Removal of loose muck continued along with shotcreting-21 meter of loose debris removed. However, minor fall of debris reduce the excavation to the tune of 14 meters.

b. To push a 900 mm dia MS Steel Pipe with the help of Hydraulic Jack to evacuate the workers trapped inside- availability of man, material and machinery identified and being mobilised by today evening along with experts of irrigation department

c. All coordinated efforts are being made to evacuate the stranded workforce at the earliest.


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