Jharkhand ropeway passed safety audit last month
New Delhi, Apr 14: Experts who conducted an audit on the Deoghar ropeway where a malfunction saw cable cars colliding and a 46-hour long rescue by helicopters, said that the ropeway was "fine" when a safety audit was done last month, according to news agency PTI.
Two separate probes including one by the operator - Damodar Ropeways and Ifra Ltd (DRIL) - and another by the state government are however being conducted to ascertain the cause of the accident on Sunday which tragically claimed three lives, two of them while rescue efforts were being made on the next two days.
D Basak, Chief Scientist and project coordinator, Wire Rope and Electrical Engineering at Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, told PTI that "the ropeway was perfectly fine ... we conducted a test on it." The prestigious Central Government institute had conducted an audit of the ropeway between March 17 and March 22.
There were earlier allegations from some quarters that the ropeway had not passed safety audits.
DRIL officials said they were currently conducting an internal investigation into the accident involving their own experts as well as outside experts to pin-point the cause of the mishap.
"The company is operating ropeway services in 18 places of India. This is our first experience of a mishap in 50 years of ropeway services ... we are unable to understand as yet how this occurred," said DRIL general manager Mahesh Mehto to PTI.
When asked about the possibility of sabotage, Mehto said, "We cannot rule it out. But at the same time, we cannot claim (there was sabotage) until the probe report comes." Locals had suggested negligence and overloading could have been causes for the accident.
However, state officials seemed to have ruled that out for the moment. Vivek Kishor, block development officer of Manoharpur, explained that families often insist on travelling in a single trolley.
"One trolley is not supposed to carry more than four people. If a family of five, including children and insist on travelling together, the number may go up. Mostly kids below 10 years board the trolley along with four others," he said.
Jharkhand government which is conducting an official probe into the tragedy has announced that a compensation of ₹ five lakh will be given to the dependents of each dead in the ropeway accident.
Deoghar civil surgeon Dr CK Sahi said, "Out of 45 people admitted to the Sadar hospital, 40 have been discharged. Five persons are undergoing treatment at the hospital. Conditions of two including a pregnant woman and one and a half-year-old child are a bit serious." "The one and a half-year-old child is being referred to Ranchi for jaw surgery," he said.
In all some 59 people were however successfully rescued by Indian Air Force helicopters from the site of the mishap in operations spread over 46 hours starting on Sunday which lasted till Tuesday afternoon.