NEW DELHI: India is looking to create a tunnel safety system as part of a broader effort to fortify the extensive tunnel network across highways, railways and metro systems in the country, people familiar with the development told ET.
This will include forming an audit team with experts from various IITs and setting up a world-class tunnelling centre under IIT Delhi to research and propose enhanced safety measures for tunnels that are benchmarked to international levels, the people said. They added that the move is aimed at preventing recurrence of mishaps like the recent Silkyara tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand in future. “Various suggestions have come from multiple stakeholders. We are in the process of setting up a dedicated audit team for tunnels being built across India under different ministries and departments while evaluating other options to ensure collaborative effort on tunnel safety,” a senior government official said, requesting anonymity.
The Centre is also in talks with Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Roorkee, Ropar and Delhi for structured audits of the tunnels in future. Some IITS have already carried out research projects related to tunnel construction and engineering.
For instance, IIT Roorkee had undertaken a project in this regard. “This research is currently related to understanding the problems related to shear or weak zones in the tunnels that could lead to collapses,” said B.K. Maheshwari, professor of earthquake engineering at IIT Roorkee. The findings are likely to be shared with the Centre as the Silkyara tragedy happened in Uttarakhand and the institute has experts in the ecology of the region. According to the government official cited above, all these initiatives at the IITs are likely to be funded by the Centre.