The Jammu cable car crash during its trial run on Sunday, claiming two lives, has raised doubts on the quality of the construction of the prestigious project that was expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendera Modi during his scheduled visit on 3 February.
The cable car detached and fell down about 50 ft during its trial run on Sunday evening, killing two persons and injuring five others.
The project aims to link the old city of Jammu to the famous shrine on the Bahu Fort and also promote tourism.
The already delayed gondola project is among the nearly two dozen projects scheduled to be inaugurated or whose foundation stones are to be laid by Modi during his ensuing visit to Jammu and Kashmir next month.
The gondola mishap comes a few months after the death of seven tourists in a similar accident at Gulmarg where two towers were damaged after a tree fell over the cable.
On Sunday, the cable car reportedly overturned and detached near the Mahamaya temple due to some technical snag. Governor Satya Pal Malik has ordered a magisterial probe into the mishap and sanctioned ex gratia of Rs.5 lakh each to the families of the deceased.
The construction agency was conducting a mock drill during which one of the trolleys carrying six workers fell due to an imbalance. One of them, 45-year-old Rakesh Kumar from Bihar, died on the spot.
The other five — Hari Krishan (45), Manjeet Singh (32) and Lovely of West Bengal, Ravinder (30) of Uttar Pradesh, and Engineer Balkirat Singh (32) of Jammu — were rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital where Hari Krishan succumbed to his injuries, police said.
The 1.66-km cable car project has been constructed to carry tourists and locals over the Tawi river from one side of the city to the other.
National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Devender Rana have expressed grief over the mishap. Rana has demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
J-K has two other cable car projects, one in Gulmarg and the other that was recently operationalised at the mountainous Vaishnodevi shrine in Jammu.
The Gulmarg Gondola is one of the world’s highest operating cable cars.
Besides, several crude ropeways had constructed over the Chenab to link villages on both sides of the river, particularly in Doda and Kishtwar. However, many of these ropeways were removed as these had resulted in a couple of helicopter crashes.