Highway opened for traffic; construction firm booked for negligence
Jammu Tawi, May 21
After the resumption of rescue operation in the Saturday morning, nine bodies were pulled out of the debris taking the death toll to ten. The rescue operation today ended after two days of landslide hit at an under-construction tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Ramban.
Ramban Deputy Commissioner Mussarat Islam said the families of the deceased would be given a compensation of Rs 15 lakh as directed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Besides, the L-G has also announced Rs 1 lakh ex gratia from the relief fund.
Judicial probe must
The debris was not cleared at the site and the construction work was started without scientific evaluation of the soil. There must be a judicial probe. Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami, J&K Chief of CITU
A body was retrieved yesterday after which another landslide occurred, bringing the rescue operation to a halt in the area.
The NDRF, the ITBP, the Army and others resumed the rescue operation at 5 am today. The police have registered an FIR against the construction company for negligence. In a statement, the police stated the rescuers retrieved all the 10 bodies at around 7 pm. “The highway has been opened for traffic,” it read. The bodies were shifted to the Government District Hospital, Ramban.
According to sources, at some places on the highway, which is being four-laned, work has been sublet by the executing agency to such contractors who have very little technical knowledge about constructing roads and tunnels in such terrains.
A total of 13 labourers were working inside the tunnel when the incident took place. While three received injuries, 10 were trapped inside. The deceased include Sudhir Roy (30), Jadav Roy (23), Gautam Roy (22), Dipak Roy (33) and Parimal Roy (38) from West Bengal; Shiva Chowhan (26) from Assam; Nawaraj Chowdhury (26) and Kushi Ram (25) from Nepal. Among them Muzaffar (38) and Israt (30) were local residents. Rescue operations faced several hurdles due to shooting stones and landslides. Yesterday, a major landslide hit the area of tunnel collapse after which the operation had to be halted immediately.
Earlier in the day, Ramban SSP Mohita Sharma said the operation would culminate soon. She said men and machinery had been deployed in strength to complete the search as soon as possible.
Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami, the J&K president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), alleged that the NHAI had handed over the work to a company that further sublet it. “As per reports, the debris was not cleared at the site and the construction work was started without scientific evaluation of the soil. The company and the administration are having vested interests and have not paid attention to this stretch. There must be a judicial probe,” he added.
The stretch where the incident occurred has become a death-trap even for commuters as several accidents have taken place here due to shooting stones and landslides in the past.
Preliminary enquiries say work at some places on the highway, which is being four-laned, has been sublet by the executing agency to such contractors who have very little technical knowledge about constructing roads and tunnels in such terrains.
Prone to landslide
The stretch where the incident occurred has become a death trap for commuters as several mishaps have taken place here due to shooting stones.
Boulders rolling down the hills and landslides hindered the Ramban rescue operation several times.