3 days on, no clarity on cause of collapse of Ramban tunnel: Govt
It was not yet clear whether the tunnel collapse at Kashmir’s Ramban district that killed 10 workers on Thursday was due to natural causes or fault in construction, the roads and transport ministry said in a statement on Sunday, even as a three-member expert panel continued to investigate the matter.
The panel, set up on the directions of transport minister Nitin Gadkari, inspected the site on Saturday and Sunday.
It will submit a report in 10 days that will look into the reasons for the structural collapse and remedial measures of the under construction tunnel and its portal near Khooni Nullah between Ramban and Banihal on National Highway 44, according to a May 20 office order issued by SK Nirmal, additional director general at the ministry. HT has reviewed a copy.
The panel is led by JT Shahu, professor of civil engineering department at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and has Vinod Shukla, managing director of FGS Consultants, who is also a member of the ministry’s expert committee on tunnels, and a chief engineer from the office of the director general of Border Roads Organisation as members.
The tunnel caved in at the start of work at 10.15pm on Thursday. Before the workers could be moved out, a huge rock mass fell on the temporary portal erected for construction of the tunnel, trapping 12 workers.
While two workers were rescued and rushed to a hospital, bodies of 10 labourers trapped under the debris were brought out on Saturday evening. The rescue was hampered by intermittent rockfalls and bad weather, the ministry said.
The stretch between Digdole and Khooni Nullah is prone to frequent landslides and rockfalls due to its fragile geology. Considering the strategic importance of maintaining all-weather connectivity to Srinagar, the central government is building tunnels and viaducts on the Ramban-Banihal section. The construction of the twin-tube tunnel to create a four-lane corridor from Digdole to Panthyal on the highway started on February 1.
Those who died in the accident will be given workman compensation and an additional payment of ₹2 lakh by the contractor, which will total to at least ₹15 lakh per victim, the ministry said on Sunday. The injured will also be compensated. In addition, the local administration will provide compensation of ₹1 lakh, the ministry said.
Further action will be taken based on report of the expert committee. The National Highways Authority of India has initiated a process to handle such emergency situations and is taking all possible measures to avoid such incidents in the future, the ministry said.