Shimla Landslide: No arrest despite negligent, unscientific excavation at Tutikandi parking complex-cum-rope-way site
SHIMLA- A landslide in Shimla town, at the construction site of rope-way and parking complex on Shimla-Chandigarh Highway, have exposed two major (as well as very common flaws) in construction of such projects – corruption and political patronage to private contractors. HP Tourism Development Board is building this 64.58 crore mega parking complex at the Shimla-Tutikandi bifurcation that was funded by the Asian Development Bank. The capacity of the complex is 700 vehicles. The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had laid the foundation stone in April 2015. The project also aimed to construct a rope-way to connect the parking complex with Jodha Niwas in Jakhu. The contract was granted to the M.S A.S. Enterprises Ltd. Chandigarh.
Despite being such a big project, all the excavation or digging work was being carried out in a completely unscientific manner. The collapsed piece of the highway is also one of the busiest bus stoppages in Shimla town. It was the initial crack that alerted the people and the traffic policeman on duty. The collapse of the road could have caused casualties if it was not evacuated timely. The contractor flaunted mandatory guidelines about safety measures, risked lives of people, and caused damage to public property. Shimla Police lost a newly built police post along with electronic equipment including computers, monitors and CCTVs worth Rs. 5 lakh, SSP Shimla, Bhajan Singh Negi, told Himachal Watcher. Despite that the Shimla Police didn’t make any arrest in the case. As per sources, the arrest was allegedly prevented via influential interference as contractor enjoyed political patronage.
Previous Story:Video: New ISBT Shimla to Tutikandi Crossing road blocked after landslide
Take another look at the video (above). The haphazard digging at the toe of the slope was carried out that led to creation imbalance in upper part of the slope. An overhanging bulge was formed on the upper part of the slop . Rain on previous day caused seepage of water that made the bulge even heavier. The contractor was supposed to build a retaining wall to support this heavy bulge that mainly consisted of loose soil. The administration or NH Authority, HP PWD etc. never bothered to monitor the situation since the construction work begun. The construction site is shrouded by fence of metal sheets, and it remains almost invisible from the roadside. Apparently, the contractor didn’t want to spend on retaining wall or other safety measure to prevent such situation.
When asked about the arrest, the SSP Shimla confirmed that only a case has been registered against M.S A.S. Enterprises Ltd. Chandigarh under Section 336 IPC (endangering life or personal safety of others), the National Highway Act, and the Prevention to Damage Public Property Act. The case was registered on the complaint of National Highway, Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (HP PWD).
Shimla is heading towards an ugly and unsafe future because most of the construction of such parkings or other complexs is being carried out in unscientific manner. Landslides on the Cart-Road also support the aforesaid possibility. There is no regard to geological limitations and excavation is allowed almost anywhere on any slope. Surprisingly, the government and people are well aware of the fact that Shimla falls in high-risk (seismic) zones in case of earthquake that are repeatedly predicted by experts all over the world.