Marathon Safety Audit Of Kashmir Ropeways Soon: JKCCC

File Photo Of Gulmarg Gondola

Srinagar- The Jammu & Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC) will carry out a marathon safety audit of each ropeway projects in the Union Territory (UT) to avoid any untoward incident.

Talking to Kashmir Observer Mohammad Akbar Wani, Managing director Jammu & Kashmir Cable Car Corporation said they have received a circular from the central government and will carry out the operation soon.

It may be noted, the Centre on Tuesday asked all states to carry out a safety audit of each ropeway project and put in place standard operating procedures to deal with such emergencies in the wake of the Deoghar ropeway accident.

At least three people died in Jharkhand after two cable cars collided with each other due to a technical glitch on the ropeway. Over 40 people were trapped in cable cars mid-air.

In a communication to all states and Union territories, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also said that for each ropeway project, a maintenance manual and programme must be in place so that the safety standards conform to good industry practices and such incidents do not recur.

Wani told Kashmir Observer that they used to carry the safety audit every year and the employees used to be alert following the heavy footfall of tourists.

The valley has two ropeway projects one in Gulmarg—popularly known as Gulmarg Gondola and another at Makhdoom Sahib (RA) in Srinagar.

Gulmarg Gondola is Asia's largest and highest and world’s second-largest and second highest cable car project.

The officials said that the cable car project is a joint venture of the Jammu and Kashmir government and French firm Pomagalski.

The first phase of the ropeway was completed in 1998 and the second phase with 36 cabins and 18 towers was completed in a record time of two years and it opened for the public from 28 May 2005. In the third phase of Gulmarg Gondola project, 90 chairlifts were installed in 2011.
Similarly, the 550 metre ropeway project at Makhdoom Sahib (RA) was constructed at a cost of around Rs 8 crore, the ropeway was built by JKCCC through Kolkata-based Ropeway and Resorts Pvt Ltd. It was thrown open to the public on December 23, 2013.

Wani told Kashmir Observer that they follow all the international norms to carry out the safety audit in these projects.

“These audits are carried-out by Original Equipment manufacturers (OEM) who check the magnetography of ropes, bullwheel , frames etc,” Wani added.

Asking the states and union territories to review the condition of all the ropeway projects in their respective state, Bhalla said SOPs and contingency plans for operation and maintenance of ropeways, and system of safety audits must be put in place.

"It should also be ensured that mock drills, mock exercises for handling contingency situations involving ropeways are periodically conducted," he said.

However, Wani said that the employees also carry out the safety audit of the projects every day for over 30 minutes before starting the operation.

“We don’t run the cable car project if we find even a minor glitch,” he added.

The entity operating the ropeways must maintain a record of all the activities undertaken as part of the maintenance programme, he said in the communication.

"The state government must engage an experienced and qualified firm or organisation for carrying out a safety audit of each ropeway project. The entity operating the ropeway must comply with all the issues arising out of the audit," the communication said.

The home secretary advised the states and UTs to designate a senior officer of an appropriate level to regularly review the preparedness measures in respect of ropeway operations as per the SOPs and contingency plan.

Wani said that the safety audit of these projects is being carried-out by the designated firms outside UT.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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