The Uttarkashi tunnel collapse: a 5 point plan of action to save the trapped workers

Uttarakhand tunnel collapse
5 point plan of action to save the trapped workers

The OSINT team at India Today dug deep into public documents to present all the information regarding the five action plans that various government agencies are implementing in an attempt to save the lives of the forty-one workers who are trapped in the Uttarkashi tunnel.

Here Below Discussed The Uttarkashi Tunnel Collapse: a 5 Point Plan of Action To Save The Trapped Workers:

Forty-one laborers are trapped in the frigid shadows of the grandiose Char Dham Highway project, enveloped in a cocoon of quiet and darkness beneath the weight of the ground.

Tuesday morning saw the release of the first images of the laborers stranded inside the collapsed Silkyara Uttarkashi tunnel, Uttarakhand. A day earlier, rescuers had managed to push a six-inch-wide pipeline through the debris, a breakthrough that would enable them to feed the workers more food during their nine-day ordeal.

The Uttarkashi tunnel, which was a part of the Rs 12,000 crore infrastructure initiative to increase communication between Char Dham sites, collapsed early on Diwali (November 12) at a distance of 160 meters from the entrance at Silkyara.

The OSINT team at India Today scrutinized public data in great depth to present the specifics of the five action plans that various government agencies are implementing in an attempt to rescue the lives of the forty-one workers who have been trapped in the tunnel’s darkness for more than two hundred hours.


After hitting a snag on Friday after digging 22 meters through the rubble, a team from the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) will restart the drilling from the Silkyara side of the Uttarkashi tunnel.

There have been many difficulties in the endeavor towards rescuing the first horizontal pipe. The auger equipment hit rocks and fractured or damaged, forcing officials to stop drilling after only 22 meters of the 900 meters of pipe that the workers were supposed to crawl out of. To put it simply, an auger is a spiral-shaped tool that is used to drill holes in many materials and surfaces, including the ground.

uttarkashi tunnel

To construct an alternative life-saving exit, the task of micro-drilling at a distance of 280 meters to the left of the tunnel entrance has been assigned to Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). For this operation, machinery has been sent from Delhi and Nashik. This Uttarkashi tunnel will be 170 meters long and 1.2 meters broad. It will be horizontal.

To get to the workers, 320 meters will need to be covered by a 1.2 meter-wide hole that will be excavated vertically from above the tunnel. The Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) was tasked with overseeing this project, and the first digging machine has already arrived at the location. In the following two to three days, two more machines are anticipated to arrive from Gujarat and Odisha. The primary vertical rescue tunnel will be this one.

Another vertical tunnel needs to be dug by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) toward the end of the Uttarkashi tunnel, approximately 480 meters from the Barkot side. The Uttarkashi tunnel is expected to be approximately 325 meters deep, and the equipment needed for the project was imported from Mumbai and Ghaziabad in the US.

By adopting the traditional drill and blast process, the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation will make a narrower, 483-meter Uttarkashi tunnel through the Barkot end of the Uttarkashi tunnel. This is an additional backup plan, for which no work has been done yet.

The uneven soil characteristics in the area have presented significant challenges for the rescue effort. There is a contradiction in the soil stratification; certain zones have a more flexible composition, while others are more inflexible. The mechanical components of the procedure are somewhat complicated by this variation in the soil’s constitution.

Rocks: The biggest obstacle to the rescue effort has been the ongoing run-in with unforgiving, hard granite formations. Because of this, there have been multiple collisions with auger machines, damaging their drills and halting rescue operations as a result.

Terrain: The Uttarkashi tunnel’s high altitude location presents another significant obstacle, especially with regard to accessibility. Because of this, replacing machines and parts is now a labor-intensive procedure.

Parts availability: One significant limitation has been the requirement for specialist equipment and knowledge for a project of this magnitude. Nonetheless, since rescuers and supplies from the United States and Thailand arrived at the scene, the situation has improved.

uttarkashi tunnel

The rescue effort is difficult because of the uneven soil strata in the Himalayan region, according to Nitin Gadkari, the minister of roads and transportation. Right now, the quickest way to get to the stranded workers is to use the American auger to drill horizontal holes. But when the machine struck hard rocks, it had problems, which increased pressure and vibrations. The equipment was turned off briefly for safety.

We are focusing on six alternatives at once. The PMO is keeping a careful eye on the operation as well. Our top priority is to free everyone who is trapped, and we will take all necessary action as soon as possible,” he declared.

Anshu Manish Khalkho, director of NHIDCL, states: “DRDO has dispatched two robots, each weighing 20 kg and 50 kg. The terrain functions like sand under the robots’ feet. Whether the robots can move there or not is what we are attempting to determine.

“All the machinery is coming; they are mobilized and will be here within a day or two,” he continues. Wherever it is needed, BRO is building roads, both on our end and the Barkot end. Both sides of the roads are prepared; the only thing missing is the equipment. Because of their weight, the machines cannot be flown.”

Kirti Panwar, the district information officer for Uttarkashi, stated, “Special teams from Norway and Thailand are taking help.” This is the same organization that in 2018 spent almost three weeks evacuating twelve boys and their soccer coach from the flooded Than Luang cave.

The nearly 1,000-kilometer Char Dham Highway project has had a significant negative impact on the ecology, especially because it has disrupted several mountain habitats. The project’s significant building activities have alarmed environmentalists who fear that they may exacerbate ecological vulnerabilities in the Himalayan region.

Millions of people in this area are already impacted by the effects of climate change. Experts caution that the project’s extensive drilling could further destabilize the already unstable terrain, increasing the risk of landslides and flash floods.


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