Perplexing lack of clarity surrounds the arrival and role of Arnold Dix, an Australian who wears many hats and has arrived at the site of the tunnel collapse a few days ago and announced, Samaritan-like: “We are getting these men out.”
“Barrister, scientist & Professor of Engineering, Of Counsel, White & Case, President, International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association,” is how the website of the man of the moment in Uttarkashi describes Dix.
He reached the collapsed tunnel’s site in village Silkyara on Monday and declared quickly: “We are going to get these men out.” But it remains unclear which agency of government, if any, hired Dix. An officer of disaster management in Uttarakhand said, requesting anonymity: “He is working in coordination with the officers of the central government…. We don’t have any information about him except that he is pro-active like a motivational speaker. We welcome whoever helps us in whatever way during these hours of crisis.” In Delhi, officials said Dix had volunteered his services.
“It is the uncertainty the future brings, and the illusion of the wisdom of hindsight, that drives Professor Dix’s focused legal/scientific/engineering approach to harnessing the rewards of prudent risk management for his clients,” Dix’s website reads, suggesting that he is a freelancer. Information available on him online indicates he has a fair degree of experience in handling tunnel disasters and rescues.
The website, which has an old picture of him with two Indians standing above the Tehri Hydroelectric Dam in Tehri Garhwal, further declares: “An accomplished lawyer as well as a technical and scientific expert in his own right, Professor Dix applies skills to all aspects of problem solving and investigations in a way that assists his clients establish certainty and thought leadership.”
On Tuesday, Dix was seen being assisted by the officers of the National Disaster Response Force around the tunnel. The Australian is often forthcoming in his media interactions and suggested that although there was no possibility of a successful rescue of the trapped workers in the next couple of days, they would be eventually brought out safely.