Tremors, landslide suspend Konkan Rly till 25 July

| 12 July 2000 23:11 IST

For the first time since it has been made fully operational from 26 January 1998, the Konkan railway has suspended its operations along the 760 kms of track from Roha to Mangalore till 25 July, due to heavy landslides and earthslips that have occurred in 36 locations, causing massive destruction of tracks.

Besides the unprecedented heavy downpour that rocked the whole Konkan region from 3 July, the railway ministry also cites six earthquakes reported in the area from 12 March to 25 May, with Koyna as its epicentre, as another reason for such an unexpected disaster.

"Though no visible damage took place in deep cutting of rocks and soil due to the tremors, certain degree of loosening and local disturbance could have taken place, which was not evident immediately", says Bangaru Laxman, the railway minister for state.

After personally inspecting the track since yesterday all along from Chiplun in Maharashtra to Canacona on the southern Goa border, Laxman said the severe intensity of rainfall accentuated the situation, which was more severe than expected.

The situation worsened from 6 July onwards as a major landslide at Galgibag in Canacona derailed the Mangla Express, leaving seven injured. Another earthslip took place at Balli, little ahead towards Margao, on the same day while the work of removing heavy boulders spread all along the track in Galgibag was on.

Balli was hit once again the next day at a different place with a massive landslide of 20,000 cum, throwing the track out by eight metres to west. On the same day, similar kind of landslide occurred on the Kudal-Sawantwadi section in Maharashtra, stopping all the railways even coming up to Margao from Bombay.

While Laxman is hopeful of restoring the Balli stretch by 13 July, he feels the real bottleneck would be near Chiplun, at Savarda, where a similar landslide occurred on 9 July involving 18,000 cum. In fact this stretch has been a problem right from the beginning of monsoons, which is expected to go on till 25 July.

While over 700 KRC personnel working round the clock have already restored damages caused in 33 places by mobilising 10 more excavators, Laxman informed the journalists here today before leaving for Delhi that this opportunity is also being availed to tackle in advance five more cuttings of similar nature along the track.

B Rajaram, the KRC MD, accompanying him says that at least four to five monsoons form stabilisation period for any railway line, though he admits that this year's damage was massive in nature, mainly due to soft soil in the whole Konkan region.

As a result of the operations being suspended, the KRC would suffer a loss of not less than Rs five crore. But the financial condition of the India's first corporatised railway line is improving, says Rajaram, with the earnings increasing by Rs 30 crore this year against total Rs 90 crore earned last year. He expects similar amount of revenue even for the next year.

Though goods traffic has not picked up on this route as expected, it has facilitated the passenger service tremendously right from Delhi to Kerala including local passengers and even a Rajdhani Express running on a route with a huge waiting list for ever.

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