Efforts underway to rescue 40 workers trapped after tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand

Coordinated efforts are being made to evacuate the stranded workers at the earliest from the Silkyara tunnel collapse site in Uttarakhand, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways said on Monday.

At least 40 workers got trapped after a portion of the tunnel under construction between Silkyara and Dandalgaon on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri national highway collapsed in the early hours of Sunday.

Rescue Efforts Underway

As part of the Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana, the road transport and highway ministry has taken up the construction of 4.531-kilometre two lane bi-directional tunnel at Silkyara to join Gangotri and Yamunotri axis under the Radi pass in Uttarakhand and sanctioned for TPC total project cost of Rs 1,383 crore on March 9, 2018 for implementation by its company National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited NHIDCL.

According to the ministry statement, on November 12, 2023 at 0530 hrs about 40 workers were inside the tunnel doing reprofiling work 260 metre to 265 metre from Silkyara portal when a collapse occurred at 205 metre to 260 metre 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.

All co-ordinated efforts are being made to evacuate the stranded workforce at the earliest, the ministry said. The statement further said communication with trapped workers has been established through walkie talkies.

Evacuation Plan

After discussions among experts and inspection of behaviour of fallen muck site over the night, the road transport ministry said, it has been decided 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 were identified and being mobilised by today evening along with experts of irrigation department.

Besides, officials from RVNL, NHIDCL, CGM NHAI and SDRF reached and inspected the incident site and monitored the rescue operation closely. While excavation with shotcreting for 40 metres of collapsed tunnel has started, the statement said, additional shotcrete machine has also been shifted from RVNL to work site.

Benefits of the Tunnel

The construction of this tunnel is expected to benefit pilgrims, providing an all-weather connectivity and reducing 25.6-km snow-affected NH-134 Dharasu-Barkot-Yamunotri road to 4.531 km, resulting in the reduction of travel time to 5 minutes from 50 minutes at present.

The rescue efforts at the Silkyara tunnel collapse site are ongoing, and authorities are hopeful that the trapped workers will be evacuated safely. The construction of this tunnel will greatly benefit pilgrims and reduce travel time significantly.

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