M’luru-B’luru rail track: Clearing landslides is a major challenge

Aaron D’mello, Jul 8, 2019, 4:48 PM IST

Subrahmanya: Every year, train movement between Mangaluru and Bengaluru turns doubtful during the monsoons. The cause for this is the landslide occurring somewhere along the railway track which snakes through the Western Ghats.

Last year, torrential rain had caused landslides at 65 locations along the Sakhleshpur – Subrahmanya stretch because of which all train movement was stopped. The hills on either sides of the track are still in their damaged state and if there are heavy rains then, another landslide is not far from becoming a reality.

Big question

Since the creation of this railway track, landslides had never occurred to this extent. Siribagilu, Yedakumari, Kadagarahall, Donigal areas suffered more amounts of landslides. It is a major challenge for the Railway Department to clear off the debris to bring back the track to its original state.

Boulders on tracks

Boulders fall on to the railway tracks along with the mud and hence the tracks suffer much damage. The clearing work has to be conducted with labourers and by using backhoes. Taking the backhoe up to the location of the landslide during the rains is a challenge in itself. If the concerned area is narrow or surrounded by gorge on either side, then a tipper lorry cannot be used here to transport the debris.

What are the challenges?

Removal of the mud and boulders deposited on the tracks is a challenging job. On the other hand, there is the fear of wild animals, especially wild elephants. There is also the fear of a possible new landslide while clearing off the old landslide. There are incidents were the officials and labourers clear off the debris, proceed and when there is a landslide along the way, effectively incarcerating the emergency workers. The tracks need to be repaired after the debris has been removed. Later, railway officials must give the permission for a trial run of a train to check the track stability.

Landslide covered an area of 2 acres

During the last year’s torrential rains, a huge hill had collapsed at 86 near Siribagilu along the Subrahmanya-Sakhleshpur rail route effectively blocking the 170 meters long tunnel here. On the outer side, it was buried by a mud layer of 25 meters depth. The landslide covered an expanse of 2 acres and thus in itself becoming the evidence to the intensity of the calamity.

Precautions are being taken

Vigil is being maintained regarding any landslide along the Subrahmanya – Sakleshpur rail route. Patrolmen have been appointed for night hours. The technical officers of the department have taken precautions in connection to the inspection of the safety and quality of the route – Gopinath, Railway Official, Mysuru Railway Division

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