Who is Professor Arnold Dix, the underground expert in charge of Uttarkashi tunnel collapse rescue?

The collapse of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand on November 12, which left 41 workers trapped, has brought the spotlight onto Professor Arnold Dix. He is a globally-acclaimed expert in tunnel safety and disaster investigations. With his experience, Professor Dix is at the forefront of the complex rescue mission, showcasing his proficiency in navigating challenging underground situations.

Professor Dix, President of International Tunnelling Underground Space, is known for his insights into tunnel safety and disaster response. His credentials are a testament to his expertise in this field. Renowned for his ability to research technical details and intuitively understand the nuances of each project, Dix’s role in the current crisis is pivotal.

In the wake of the tunnel collapse, Dix emphasised the importance of meticulous planning and safety, stating that the current situation seems promising but requires careful evaluation to avoid further risks. His approach underlines the need for thorough analysis and consideration of all aspects of such critical operations.

The rescue mission, involving ‘micro tunnelling’ and other innovative strategies, is a race against time. Efforts are underway to drill a vertical shaft to reach the trapped workers, with a road already laid to the top of the hill for this purpose. The use of an American-made auger machine, which faced obstacles while boring through the debris, highlights the complexity of the operation.

Professor Arnold Dix’s career

Professor Dix’s career is marked by numerous accolades, reflecting his significant contributions to tunnel safety worldwide. In 2011, he received the Alan Neyland Australasian Tunnelling Society bi-annual award for excellence in tunnelling, specifically in tunnel fire safety.

His efforts in enhancing fire safety in tunnels have been recognised as groundbreaking. More recently, in 2022, he was honoured with a Committee Service Award by the National Fire Protection Association of the United States of America, a testament to his continuous and valuable service in developing codes and standards for tunnel safety.

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Updated: 20 Nov 2023, 02:18 PM IST

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