‘Fir tree hit ropeway causing accident in Gulmarg’

first_imgThe J&K Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC) and State Forest Department’s failure to identify the treeline crossing the height of the Gondola ropeway at tourist hotspot Gulmarg resulted in the first-ever accident on June 25 that left seven, including four tourists, dead.Sources privy to the preliminary assessment carried out by a three-member probe committee headed by State commissioner secretary, Power Development Department (PDD), Dheeraj Gupta, told The Hindu that the treeline in the first phase of the ropeway between Gulmarg and Kongdoori was continuously posing a threat. The 5-km ropeway is the longest in the country. Safety testSources said the treeline comprising quail and fir trees cleared the safety test in 1998 when the ropeway was inaugurated. However, in the past 19 years these trees acquired a height of around 2 to 2.5 feet annually and crossed the ropeway height and became a looming threat. “One of the fir trees, between 50 to 60 feet high, with false ground roots was bent by the winds on June 25 and hit the ropeway. This caused sagging of the rope, resulting in wobbling and swinging, which derailed the capsule carrying people. It’s wrong information that the rope was cut, as it can bear a weight of over one lakh metric tons,” a top official of the JKCCC told The Hindu.The accident took place in the first phase of the ropeway with dense tree line on both sides and which sees a vertical rise of 400 metres in nine minutes. The second phase, which has a steeper rise of 879.91 metres, takes tourists from Kongdoori to Apharwat at an altitude of 13,400 feet in 12 minutes. JKCCC officials have identified 60 to 70 trees that have to be immediately cut by the forest department, which owns the land. Meanwhile, a fresh French team has been invited to assess the damage and issue a fresh certificate to allow the Gondola service to resume. It has remained shut since June 25.last_img

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