Construction company grapples with prolonged dewatering process in Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel, extending over a month

Senior engineer reveals daunting task ahead: 42 days needed to dewater 500-meter tunnel at 84,000 liters/hr, totaling 2.016 million liters/day.
Silkyara tunnel construction site.
Silkyara tunnel construction site.File Photo -Express

DEHRADUN: The Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district came into the spotlight on November 12, following the collapse of one of its under-construction sections. This incident led to the entrapment of 41 workers, and despite various attempts by regional, national, and international agencies, including the efforts of "rat-hole" miners, the workers were ultimately rescued on November 28. However, the obstacles and complexities facing the construction agency for reconstruction have become more challenging.

Sources have indicated that the long-stalled construction activities within the tunnel have resulted in a significant accumulation of water, necessitating an 'estimated time frame of more than a month' to complete the dewatering works. Following clearances from the central authorities, a phased approach has been implemented in the last two days to start the de-watering process in preparation for resumption of construction work in the tunnel.

After the rescue operation in the tunnel, a camera has been installed again to monitor all activities. NHIDCL's General Manager Colonel Deepak Patil told The New Indian Express, "Security measures are also being taken on the other side of the tunnel. Heating and priming are required to start the transformer inside the tunnel, which will take about a week. Only after that can dewatering begin."

According to sources, an Australian company will be assisting the executing agency with cavity treatment design technology to remove thousands of tons of debris in the Silkyara tunnel. Officials of the executing agency have stated that no risks can be taken during the debris removal process, so the process will only commence after the report on the design technology is received.

A senior engineer involved in the construction of the tunnel disclosed, under the condition of anonymity, that, "In order to dewater at a rate of 84,000 liters per hour and 2.016 million liters per day, we will need 42 days to complete the dewatering process for the 500-meter linear length, which is anticipated to be a formidable challenge."

As per reliable sources, it has been reported that the Navyuga company, engaged in the construction of the tunnel, is set to be granted a fourth extension. The company's previous extension for the project concluded in December; however, given that the tunnel construction remains incomplete, preparations are underway for yet another extension.

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The New Indian Express