Ranchi: The distressing images of Trikut hill ropeway accident in Deoghar, Jharkhand, happened on April 10 this year are still afresh in memories of the people. But, how many in the government really do care about outcome of a high-level inquiry constituted to probe the accident?
The reality is that the committee, which was supposed to complete the investigation in two months and submit its report to the government, has not finished the task even after six months of the accident.
Immediately after the accidents, the governments show tremendous alacrity for an initial few days, only to fall asleep under the blanket of carelessness.
The ropeway accident on Trikut mountain of Deoghar, the famous religious tourist center of Jharkhand, on the evening of April 10th, claimed three lives and left more than one and a half dozen people injured due to snapping of the ropeway wire.
A total of 78 people on 23 out of 24 trolleys of the ropeway were trapped in the air between the hill and the ditch. Of these, 28 people were rescued the same day, while 48 people were left hanging in the air for 36 to 45 hours without food or water. After 45 hours of risky operation by the Indian Air Force (IAF), NDRF, ITBP and Army, 46 of these 48 people hanging in the air were rescued, while two people died during the rescue.
One person died before the trolley fell. It was then revealed that the company running the ropeway had neither maintained it as per the norms nor understood the need to rectify the lapses revealed in the safety audit.
Three weeks before the accident, a government agency had conducted a safety audit of the 1,770-metre-long ropeway and pointed out 24 defects in it. Ignoring them, the ropeway was continued in operation.
After the accident, the Jharkhand government on April 19 had issued a notification to set up an inquiry committee under the chairmanship of state finance secretary Ajay Kumar Singh. It was said in the notification that the committee would submit the report to the government in two months. Surprisingly, the committee hit the ground after 70 days of the incident, when the country was rocked by Morbi handing bridge disaster in Gujarat that claimed more than 134 lives.
It is now being told that the committee has not been able to prepare its report due to the delay in getting the investigation report from the metallurgical lab of the shaft of the ropeway, which caused the accident. The surprising thing in this case is that the report of the metallurgical lab has been received by the tourism department of the state about a month ago, but it has not yet reached the inquiry committee.
Officials of the tourism department said that the report would be submitted soon.
Haradih-Budhadih bridge collapse report still awaited
During the Yas storm on May 27 last year, a bridge built at a cost of ₹13 crores on the Haradih-Budhadih bridge on the Kanchi river near Ranchi got washed away even before its inauguration. Chief minister Hemant Soren had then announced the formation of a high-level committee to probe it and said that corruption would not be tolerated at any cost.
Chief engineer, road construction department, Murari Bhagat was made the chairman of the inquiry committee. Chief engineer of building construction department JP Singh was a member. The committee was asked to investigate the causes for collapse of the bridge and submit its report in a month. Even after lapse of one and a half years, neither the investigation report is known nor any action has been taken against anyone.
None guilty in Hazaribag bridge cave in!
In the year 2017, the bridge built on Sevane river in Dandai Kalan of Sadar block of Hazaribagh collapsed in just four years of its its construction. People were complaining of poor quality of construction when the bridge was being built. Up on inquiry, which found the claims true, the government had then in 2013 suspended an executive engineer of the special division Gopal Ram Rajak. The contractor was instructed to build the pillar of the bridge again. However, even after cosmetic repair, the bridge got badly damaged in the very first rain.
Three dozen bridges collapsed in 10 years, none booked
In fact, in Jharkhand, more than three dozen bridges have collapsed in the last one decade due to substandard construction work, but in any case, there is no such instance of identifying the culprits and taking stern action against them. Some officers were suspended for a few months, but no further action was taken.
For example, a bridge collapsed on river Kanchi near Balmadih in Sonahatu, Ranchi. Another bridge on Tehale river on Shahpur-Garhwa road at Chainpur in Palamu got washed away. A bridge over Koel river in Chainpur was also badly damaged while another bridge on the river Pusai suffered construction faults. Actions were taken, but that turned out to be an eyewash.
Chirkunda-Barakar bridge in bad shape
There are still many such bridges in the state, which are posing danger every day. For example, the Chirkunda-Barakar bridge connecting Jharkhand and Bengal in Dhanbad has been damaged. Its two pillars have reached the verge of collapse. The soil and stones under the second pillar of the bridge have been removed from the side of Chirkunda, while the fourth pillar has cracked. This bridge can collapse at any time.
If this happens, there will be a huge loss of life and property, as well as the connection between Jharkhand and Bengal will also be broken. This bridge was constructed in the year 1925 by Kumaradhubi Engineering Works Limited (KEW). It is clearly written on the signboard on the bridge that any vehicle carrying a maximum load of 10 tonnes can pass. But flouting this instruction, goods vehicles pass through here every day.
Another bridge on Sevane river damaged
A bridge built on the Sevane river connecting Daru and Tatijharia blocks in Hazaribag is getting damaged and sinking from one side, which can lead to a major accident anytime. The construction of this bridge was completed a few years ago at a cost of crores of rupees and in a very short time this bridge has suffered serious damages. This bridge is situated on the main road connecting Dhanbad, Giridih, Gomia, Bokaro etc.
Bajra ghat bridge on Barakar faces subsidence
The bridge connecting Dhanbad-Jamtara at Bajra Ghat of Barakar river is under threat due to illegal sand mining. The Auranga river bridge in Latehar district headquarters has also reached a dangerous position due to indiscriminate mining of sand in the river. A bridge over Karo river on Govindpur-Urmi road at Torpa in Khunti district was damaged in August last month. A part of the bridge has bent down and it can cause a major accident any day.