Centre forms expert panel headed by IIT prof to probe Ramban tunnel collapse

The central government has asked the newly-formed expert pannel to submit a detailed report on the incident, the reasons for such frequent accidents and remedial measures within 10 days.
An under-construction tunnel collapsed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district on Thursday night, killing 10 labourers. (PTI)
An under-construction tunnel collapsed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban district on Thursday night, killing 10 labourers. (PTI)
Updated on May 22, 2022 03:24 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Centre has formed a committee to investigate the tunnel collapse incident in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) Ramban district which killed 10 labourers on Thursday night, said a government order.

An inspection of the site by the expert panel was carried out on Saturday and Sunday and it has been asked to submit a detailed report on the incident, the reasons for such frequent accidents and remedial measures within 10 days.

The constitution of the committee was ordered by union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari.

“The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has constituted a committee of experts to investigate the reasons for the structural collapse and remedial measures thereof of the under construction tunnel/its portal near Khooni Nallah between Ramban and Banihal on NH-44 in the union territory of J&K,” said the office order issued by SK Nirmal, additional director general (MoRTH) on May 20, a copy of which is with HT.

The three-member panel has JT Shahu, professor in the department of civil engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, as its chairperson and a chief engineer from the office of the director general of Border Roads and Vinod Shukla, MD of FGS Consultants, who is also a member of MoRTH’s expert committee on tunnels, as members.

Three days after the incident, the MoRTH on Sunday issued a statement saying it is yet to be determined whether the occurrence of the incidence was due to the work being executed or due to natural reasons.

“On May 19, around 10:30-11pm a landslide and shooting of stones started while the execution of portal support installation work of adit at Khooni Nallah was also being done. Before workers could be moved out, suddenly a huge rock mass fell above the false steel portal erected for construction of the adit caved in, leading to trapping of 12 workers at that spot. Senior NHAI officers immediately reached the site and rescue work was immediately started by SDRF, NDRF, J&K Police,” the road transport ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

While two workers were rescued and rushed to the hospital, bodies of 10 labourers trapped under the debris since Thursday night were brought out by Saturday evening. The rescue work was hampered by intermittent shooting stones and bad weather which delayed the completion of the operation, the ministry said.

The stretch between Digdole and Khooni Nallah of Ramban Banihal section is prone to frequent landslides/shooting stones due to its fragile geology. Considering the strategic importance of maintaining all weather connectivity to Srinagar and after assessing the challenges in ensuring stability of hill slopes on the existing alignment, the Centre is building tunnels/viaducts under three packages in Ramban-Banihal section. The construction of the twin-tube tunnel work to create a four-lane road corridor from Digdole to Panthyal on the Jammu-Srinagar highway started on February 1 this year.

“Those whose life could not be saved are being given workman compensation and additional ex-gratia of 2.00 lakh by the EPC contractor which amounts to at least 15 lakh per victim. The injured are also being adequately compensated. In addition, the UT administration has also announced ex- gratia relief of 1.0 lakh,” the MoRTH said on Sunday.

Further action will be taken based on the report of the expert committee. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has already initiated the process to handle such emergency situation and is also taking all possible measures to avoid such incidents in the future, it added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on urban development, transport, energy and social welfare in Delhi. She prefers to be called a storyteller and has given voice to several human interest stories. She is currently cutting her teeth on multimedia storytelling.

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