The already sinking historic Ridge in Shimla faced another threat on Sunday as a large portion of it caved in due to heavy rains for past few days. A chunk of about 20 metres of the Ridge in front of Gaiety Theatre caved in by about six feet.
Following this, the administration has declared the pathway from the Ridge to the Lakkar Bazaar bus stand unsafe and requested people not to pass through that path.
The area had developed cracks last month.
The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) had been putting in efforts to repair the damaged portion since then. But it all seemed superficial as SMC only filled up cracks, and did not bother to repair the broken slope wholly.
If the broken patch is not done up properly at the earliest, the cracks on the Ridge may also pose a danger to the Gaiety Theatre. The safety of reservoir, which supplies water to the residents, beneath the Ridge is another concern, as its just 150 metres away from the site that caved it.
According to SMC Engineer, Subhash Chand, the problem lies in the haphazard construction below the Ridge, allegedly by some shopkeepers in the Tibetan market.
"The structures constructed by some shop keepers below the Ridge have blocked the natural flow of rainwater, resulting in accumulation of mud and swelling of the sand above hard rock. Due to this the strata has become fragile, and it has started caving in at one point or the other," he said.
About forty shops of Tibetans near ridge are under threat after Sunday's incident and the Corporation has issued warning to these shopkeepers to remain alert to avoid any mishap.
In 2008, three people lost their lives when the Tibetan market near the damaged area of the Ridge collapsed. After the incident, major cracks had appeared on the Ridge.
Mayor of SMC, Madhu Sood admitted that the Corporation's efforts to repair the Ridge were piece meal.
"There should be a comprehensive plan to repair the Ridge as a whole. But the Municipal Corporation does not have adequate funds for the work," she said.
She said the Tourism Department has sent a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to Asian Development Bank (ADB) for restoration of the Ridge, but it may take time receive the money sanctioned by the ADB. Sood plans to meet the chief minister on the issue for immediate help.
The SMC engineer said that about an area of 200 meters in front of the Gaiety Theater needs urgent repair.
"Starting from the basement that is Tibetan shops, whole structure will have to be reconstructed on hard rocks about five feet down the earth level."