Pamban bridge mishap: Railways blames barge, demands relief

As a large group of engineers and workers are straining hard to restore the historic Pamban Rail bridge that was damaged by a barge ramming into it on last Sunday, the Railways held the barge, which was being towed by a tug boat, responsible for the incident.

“The restoration work is progressing in a very satisfactory manner and the damaged pier has to be replaced,” Southern Railway’s divisional manager at Madurai, A K Rastogi, told Deccan Herald on Wednesday. The 2.3-km-long, 100-year-old cantilever bridge on the sea vitally links the pilgrim-island of Rameshwaram and mainland India in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district.

Headed by a chief engineer, a team of over 50 people are working at the accident site despite the “heavy water currents and winds” restricting the work-hours, he said. Bridge experts and divers are in the team. Experts from Tuticorin Port Trust have also rushed with underwater cameras to assist in the reconstruction task.  The restoration work involves initially putting up two “temporary piers” using steel cribs on either side of the damaged pier to support the girder. Then the twisted pier will be removed and replaced by a new pier, he said. “The work will be mostly over by January 19 and if everything goes well, we hope to resume train services on the bridge from January 20”, said Rastogi.

“Though heavy winds had initially caused the barge and its tow boat to drift and run aground, it was quite clear that it was the barge’s mistake which led to the accident and damaging the bridge vying for Unesco heritage status,” he asserted.

    

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