Enquiry holds violation of SOPs responsible for crash of Jammu Ropeway rescue trolley

Denial of mandatory safety gears to workforce leads to fatalities
M/s Damodar, Govt contradict each other on project completion

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Apr 15: Magisterial enquiry into crash of rescue trolley of Jammu Ropeway Project has held glaring violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) responsible for the tragedy which claimed two lives and rendered four others seriously injured early this year. However, no action has been taken on the findings, which were forwarded to the Government around 10 days back.
A total of six technical and non-technical persons were carrying out some work near Mahamaya Park Terminal Station on January 20, 2019 when rescue trolley crashed all of a sudden leading to death of two persons and injuries to four others.
Soon after the accident, Government ordered magisterial enquiry to ascertain the cause(s) behind the tragedy. The enquiry was assigned to the then Additional Deputy Commissioner Jammu with the direction to complete the task as expeditiously as possible.
During the course of enquiry, the officer visited the site of the accident and even obtained footage of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras for analysis. After detailed examination of all the aspects, the officer submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner Jammu, who subsequently forwarded the same to the Chief Secretary with a copy to the Tourism Secretary around 10 days back, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“In the report, glaring violation of Standard Operating Procedures by the company, which was supplying manpower to M/s Damodar Ropeways, has been held responsible”, sources privy to the findings said, adding “it has been pointed out that none of the six persons, who were on the trolley at the time of accident, were wearing mandatory gears like helmets and safety ropes”.
“The helmets as well as safety ropes are mandatory particularly in respect of work at such a height but the same were not provided to workforce prior to deploying them for carrying out work near Mahamaya Park Terminal Station”, sources further said, adding the enquiry officer has substantiated this through the footage obtained from the CCTV cameras installed at Mahamaya Park Terminal Station by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation.
It is pertinent to mention here that safety ropes are given to the workers as a protection to fall from the heights in industrial and construction activities but this aspect was completely ignored by the company which was providing manpower to M/s Damodar Ropeways for various activities at the project.
Moreover, as per the Standard Operating Procedures only two persons were supposed to travel in the rescue trolley at one time but six persons were allowed at that time without any justification and this was also one of the reasons behind the tragedy, they further said, adding “had the SOPs been strictly followed the tragedy could have been avoided and lives of two persons saved”.
Though the report was submitted to the Government about 10 days back yet no action has been taken on the findings, which otherwise is imperative to achieve the objective behind the holding of magisterial probe, sources said.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary to Government, Tourism Department Rigzian Sampheal confirmed that enquiry report has been received. However, he refused to divulge the details as well as comment on the action, which the Government is going to take on the basis of findings of enquiry officer.
In response to question about completion of project, he said, “in all probability we will dedicate the project to people by end of this month as work is apace on the left over components of the ropeway”.
However, a senior officer of M/s Damodar Ropeways, Biswadip Mukherjee said, “it is not possible to complete the left over work by this month end”, adding “we will try to hand over the project to Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation by ending May”.
As per the sources, work on electrical components of the Peer Kho to Mahamaya Park Section is still going on while as trial runs have been conducted a number of times during the past some days.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the project has two sections—Section-I from Peer Kho to Mahamaya Park having length of 1184 meters and Section-II from Bahu to Mahamaya Park having length of 484 meters.
While there is no tower on Bahu to Mahamaya Park Section, there are seven towers between Peer Kho to Mahamaya Park. There will be around 22 cabins on Peer Kho to Mahamaya Park section and eight on Bahu to Mahamaya Park with each having capacity to carry six persons at a time.