Rohtang Tunnel work faces high load pressure, to be completed on time – Army Engineers

Rohtang Tunnel project races against time for completion in August 2019.

Manali: Racing to meet the August 2019 deadline for completion of the prestigious 9 Km long Rohtang Tunnel project, army engineers at the site said that work was going on in a critical section of the tunnel where overcoming high load pressure had turned up as a geological surprise for the team.

South Portal Rohtang Tunnel
View of Rohtang Tunnel at South Portal

“From the South Portal,” said Brigadier DN Bhatt, chief engineer Rohtang Tunnel, “excavation of 3627.2 meters stands completed and from the north portal the tunnel tunnel has been dug to a length of 3485.64 meter and only 1907.55 meters of it remains.”

South Portal Rohtang Tunnel

Work in Progress at South Portal of Rohtang Tunnel

The army engineers speaking to Hill Post added that the tunnel work was now in an area where the high overburden area over south portal was over 1000 meters high and about 1650 meters at north portal. 

Rohtang Tunnel Blasting excavation
Excavation by blasting at Rohtang Tunnel

“Such a heavy overburden causes high load and pressure in the tunnel that poses a lot of challenges for those working deep inside the mountain out there. We are tackling all the problems being faced and hope to achieve a breakthrough (meeting of the South & North portal tunnels) on schedule by July 2017 and complete it by August 2019,” said Brig Dutt.

Use of boomer in wire mesh fixing at Rohtang Tunnel
Rohtang Tunnel Wire Mesh fixing

To hold the pressure and the excavated tunnel in place, the engineering demands a strong system which involves drilling in extra long bolts, thick concrete, steel girders and wire meshes.

These measures are necessary to ensure stability and safety of tunnel and the workers engaged in carrying out the drilling and blasting deep inside the mountains, said Brig Dutt. “Other works involved include kicking lining, arch lining, laying of an emergency tunnel below the tunnel where work is progressing concurrently.”

Rohtang Tunnel South Portal
South Portal Rohtang Tunnel

Speaking about the avalanche protection measures adopted at the construction site Colonel Sanjay Thayplal, Director of Rohtang tunnel said that 13 avalanche protection structures on approach road from Manali to south portal of Rohtang Tunnel had been constructed. Besides the snow galleries, snow bridges and deflection walls laid out were all designed by army engineers at SASA.

Rohtang Tunnel prefabricated lining machinery
Pre-fabricated lining heavy duty machinery Rohtang Tunnel

About the loose strata encountered during the project execution Rajesh Arora, project manager of SMECKA, the consultant agency for Rohtang Tunnel said, “this type of lose strata of rock was predicted in design in the given time frame.”

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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