Even as the Ramban Police has registered a case against the company engaged in the project of widening the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the Union Government has constituted a committee of three independent experts to investigate the reasons for the recent collapse of a part of the under-construction tunnel in Ramban district in which 10 workers have lost their lives.

According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) office order, Professor J T Sahu of IIT Delhi will be the chairman of the committee, and it will submit the report to the ministry within 10 days.

The state-owned National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has already initiated a process to handle such emergency situation and it is also taking all possible measures to avoid such incidents in the future.

According to an official handout issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, "the stretch between Digdole and Khooni Nallah of Ramban Banihal section is prone to frequent landslides/shooting stones due to fragile geology. Considering the strategic importance of maintaining all-weather connectivity to Srinagar and after assessing the challenges in ensuring the stability of hills slopes on existing alignment, tunnels, and viaducts are proposed under three packages in this section."

Ramban tragedy
Ramban tragedy

It is further mentioned that the twin-tube tunnel work in four-laning from Digdole to Panthyal on Jammu Srinagar National Highway was awarded to M/s Ceigall India Limited in JV with Patel Engineering Limited. The construction work started on February 1, 2022.

"It is yet to be determined whether the occurrence of the incidence is due to work being executed or due to natural reasons. A committee of three independent eminent experts has been constituted by the Central government which has already moved to the site to investigate the reasons for slide and collapse and remedial measures thereof", the handout reads

Further action will be taken based on the report of the Committee. NHAI has already initiated the process to handle such emergencies and also taking all possible measures to avoid such mishappening in the future.

FIR has already been registered against the company

After the incident, a case under Sections 287 (Negligent conduct with respect to machinery), 304-A (Causing death by negligence), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 (causing hurt by an act of endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC has been registered at Police Station Ramsu and investigation started.

Tunnel collaposed

Although no arrest has been made so far, officers of the company engaged in digging the tunnel will be summoned for further questioning and investigation.

Construction company to pay Rs 15 lakh to kin of all killed workers

Deputy Commissioner Ramban Mussarat Islam said that immediate ex gratia of Rs 25,000 from the Red Cross fund and Rs 25,000 from the company is being given to kin of two local labourers, who are believed to have died in the incident along with eight workers from West Bengal, Nepal and Assam.

"Following directions received from Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, Rs 15 lakh compensation each shall be given by Construction Company to families of those who died. Lt Governor has also announced Rs 1 lakh ex-gratia from Relief Fund", said Deputy Commissioner Ramban.

Bodies of all the 10 trapped workers were recovered from the debris of an under-construction tunnel that collapsed near Khooni Nallah area of Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban district on Thursday, the police said on Saturday.