J&K: Executing company fined Rs. 8.46 crore for tunnel collapse
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has taken stringent action against the contractors of the tunnel project in Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir, which collapsed in May, killing ten workers. The NHAI fined Ceigall India-Patel Engineering, the joint venture in charge of the project, Rs. 8.46 crore. In addition, the company has been barred from participating in any central government projects for six months.
Why does this story matter?
- The move came after a five-month probe into the collapse of an under-construction tunnel in the Ramban district of J&K.
- Following the death of 10 workers who were crushed by the debris, a negligence case was filed against the firm responsible for the operation.
- To recall, work on the Rs. 850 crore worth twin tube tunnel began on February 1.
What did official order say?
"It's evident that the EPC (engineering procurement construction) contractor has failed to execute the works with proper investigations," the ministry of road transport and highway said in its order. The ministry added that the executing agency also failed to discharge its safety obligation as per the provision of the EPC Agreement, which led to the loss of lives of the workers.
Probe established negligence by executing company
The investigation determined that the workers' deaths were caused by the company's carelessness and that the site and numerous technical evaluations made by Ceigall-Patel were not favorable, Business Standard reported. "This clearly established that the geological assessment done by the EPC Contractor was faulty which was also inferred by the Expert Committee," the ministry claimed.
10-day deadline for company to submit penalty amount
According to officials, the company will have to submit the penalty amount of Rs. 8.46 crore within 10 days. Moreover, the highway authority has ordered the immediate removal of key personnel involved in the project and their debarment for a period of one year.
What do we know about the incident so far?
On May 19, landslides near the Adit Tunnel in Khooni Nallah, which was still under construction, caused shooting stones to begin falling off a position. Before workers could be evacuated, a sizable rock mass fell over the artificial steel portal built for the Adit construction, which caved in, trapping 13 men there, 10 of whom died.