Uttarkashi, November 28


s a much-awaited moment has been achieved by rescuing 41 workers trapped in the Silkiyara Tunnel since 12 November, it is an opportune moment to speak about a silent and resilient force, the Border Roads Organization behind these rescue operations.

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After tireless efforts of rescuers which continued for 16 days, all 41 trapped workers were evacuated successfully from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand.

The Silkiyara Tunnel is being built by NHIDCL on Yamunotri National Highway connecting Silkiyara to Barkot. This 4531 m long tunnel will shorten the road distance by 26 Km and 45 minutes of travel time. The tunnel is designed as a single tube tunnel with two lanes divided by a vertical partition wall.

"The tunnel is being constructed in extremely weak rock mass constituting meta-siltstone and phyllites. The 15 m diameter of the tunnel makes its construction technically intricate. The collapse occurred between chainage 206 m at Silkiyara End and spread to chainage 260 towards Barkot End," the Border Roads Organization said.

"After the unfortunate incident of the collapse of the portion of the under-construction tunnel, BRO with pan India footprint and a strong presence in the state of Uttarakhand, was mobilized to assist the central government and state government agencies in this multi-agency efforts for the rescue. Project Shivalik of BRO was employed to assist in various tasks in support of the rescue operations," they added.

As this incident happened, BRO was made the nodal agency to coordinate between various agencies that got involved in the operations to rescue the trapped workers.

BRO was immediately involved in the planning and execution of the side draft near the site. Another important task BRO was entrusted with was the transportation of the American Auger Machine to the site. BRO coordinated its move from Delhi to Dehradun and to the site at Silkiyara and ensured the same became functional at the site by 15 November.

Since then BRO has been coordinating the move of equipment like drill machines, pipes of various sizes, and ROVs etc belonging to various agencies by coordinating and interacting with the Air Force, the civil aviation ministry and various central and state government agencies.

The major rescue operation was carried out using the American Auger Machinealong the Silkiyara End.

This approach involved a horizontal 900 mm pipe being inserted through the 60 m collapse zone using an American Auger Machine.

The BRO further stated that In addition there were four more options being exercised to increase the probability of successful rescue operations. The first approach was a vertical drill of 1.2 m diameter planned from the top of the hill by SJVNL. A drill hole was planned at the chainage 306 m from Silkiyara End. For this task, BRO was asked to recce and provide an 1150m approach road to the drilling site. BRO not only provided the same in a mere 48 hours against all odds but also assisted SJVNL in getting their drilling equipment to the site on 25November 23.

For the rescue personnel working inside the tunnel, a safe passage was required in case of anycalamity. For this BRO provided 50 Box culverts and 50 m of hume pipes. The same equipment has been used to create a safe passage inside.

A team of BRO was coordinating the same from HQ DGBR at Delhi and a team at DehradunAirport.

BRO is always at the forefront in not only creating and maintaining the infrastructure along our borders but also a first responder and a silent worker towards the common goal of saving precious lives in case of calamities as could be seen both at Sikkim and presently at Silkiyara.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met the workers who have been rescued along with Union Minister of State General (Retd) VK Singh.

A portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel, trapping 41 labourers inside the under-construction structure.

Border Road Organization: Silent force behind Silkiyara Tunnel rescue operation

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