Himalayan geology not predictable: Experts on Uttarkashi tunnel rescue timeline

Himalayan geology is not a precise science and many roadblocks have come in the way of the multi-agency, 12-day rescue operation, so far.

The Uttarkashi tunnel rescue operation is back on track after a last-minute glitch on Thursday night which took hours to be fixed on Friday.(PTI)

The Himalayan geology is not as predictable as people think, experts said on Friday as the Uttarkashi tunnel rescue operation went on overcoming new hurdles at the last moment. Addressing a press meet over the ongoing progress of the rescue work, National Highways Authority of India member (admin) Vishal Chauhan said Himalayan geology is unpredictable and several roadblocks came in the way, despite the best efforts of all the government and private agencies.

“The maximum tunnelling is going on in Jammu and Kashmir and then in Arunachal Pradesh. The Atal tunnel is an example of great tunnelling work in Himachal. We are continuously learning our lessons…what happened in Uttarkashi is an unfortunate thing. Himalayan geology is still not a precise science but it’s improving by the day It’s not that we are having an accident every year or once in two years. I haven’t heard of an accident like this in years. I have travelled all the tunnels of Jammu and Kashmir. Excellent technology is being used,” NDMA member Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd) said commenting on the delay in the rescue work — as the 41 men trapped in the Silkyara tunnel were expected to be rescued on Thursday night but the operation hit a snag.

There has been no progress in the movement of the pipe through the debris in the last 24 hours as there was some roadblock, the NDMA member said. After it was fixed, there was a problem with one pipe and then the auger machine developed a snag, Hasnain said explaining the current situation of the rescue work.

Now, a ground penetrating radar has indicated that there are no metal hurdles up to five metres ahead of the passage of the auger machine, the NDMA member said. “Do not speculate any completion time of the rescue operation,” the NDMA member said.

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