Railway staff move mountains to restore train services on Shiradi ghat section
Following the first landslide that occurred in the Hassan-Mangaluru railway section on August 14, train services were suspended.
Published: 24th September 2018 02:20 AM | Last Updated: 24th September 2018 02:20 AM | A+A A-
SAKLESHPUR (HASSAN): In the midst of awe-inspiring greenery of the Shiradi Ghats, sounds of varying decibels waft through. The deafening sound of excavators lifting huge boulders and crushing them, the rhythmic chugging of a special train carrying machines and tools required to remove debris on railway tracks, the crackle of jelly stones being dumped on tracks, a megaphone being used by supervisors to communicate with a large group — all bear testimony to the relentless efforts under way now for over a month by railway employees and contract workers. Their common goal: restoration of the 55.26 km of railway track along the Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road stretch so that suspended train services can restart.
Following the first landslide that occurred in the Hassan-Mangaluru railway section on August 14, train services were suspended. Since then, 64 more landslides have occurred, interspersed with torrential rains and gusty winds.
The breathtaking beauty of the Ghats is in sharp contrast to the mind-numbing devastation registered all around. Most of it has been cleared off tracks, but signs of it around are clearly visible. Iron rails wrenched out and thrown aside in pieces, railway sleepers destroyed, tunnels fully covered in earth, massive trees uprooted, huge boulders that have landed on railway tracks, signalling cables destroyed and so on.
A group of newspersons were taken on a spot visit along the route by Mysuru Divisional Railway Manager Aparna Garg and other top officials in a materials train to get a first-hand account of the progress being made.
As the train stops at Yedakumeri station, where 16 railway personnel were stranded for four days before they were rescued on August 17, Aparna recalled, “They were in a nightmarish situation surrounded by landslides and boulders and could not leave the place. The landslide was happening right in front of them and they feared it would slide on to their building but could not step out.”
Ravindra Biradar, Senior Divisional Engineer, Co-ordination, said, “We have removed 1,70,000 cubic metres of the nearly 2 lakh cubic metres of debris, so almost 80% of the debris has been cleared.” Different preventive techniques have been deployed around now after assessing the soil at different spots, he added.
“Steel wire nets have been put on rocks and anchor bolts driven into them so that they will not be dislodged. ‘Canadian fencing’ strategy of erecting vertical iron rails is in place to prevent rocks passing through, and high retaining walls are there to prevent mud slipping through. Berms, that involves creating steps on the hills, are also there to avoid any chances of slides,” Biradar explained.
As of now, railway officials are mulling on the right method to be adopted due to water emerging from the rocks at a location between Yedakumeri and Subrahmanya Ghat section where 40 metres of railway tracks remain covered by earth. A massive boulder too has descended due to weakening of soil caused by water seepage. Despite best efforts to commence operations by September 20, operations can begin only by end of October.