‘Ill-conceived’ cable car to Makhdoom Sahib (RA) shrine grounded

The much-hyped Makhdoom Sahib (RA) ropeway in Shaher-e-Khaas here is grounded for past nearly three months due to major technical snag caused by breakdown of ‘inferior and defective components.’

‘Ill-conceived’ cable car to Makhdoom Sahib (RA) shrine groundedConstructed at a cost of around Rs 8 crore, the 550 metre ropeway was built by Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC) through Kolkatta-based Ropeway and Resorts Pvt Ltd.

The project was approved by the State government in 2010 to provide easy access to devotees and tourists to the revered shrine of HazratMakhdoom Sahib (RA) on Koh-e-Maran hillock. Government had conducted a survey for the project through RITES Ltd, a Government of India Enterprise engaged in multi-disciplinary consultancy in the fields of transport, infrastructure and related technologies. The ropeway was inaugurated on December 24, 2013.

The cable car is closed since May 17 this year after JKCCC experts during an inspection found defective components in the system.

Sources said the “ill-conceived” project was started without mandatory technical and environmental clearance. “The present location of the ropeway was not technically and environmentally feasible. Experts had suggested ropeway from Badamwari to Makhdoom Sahib (RA) shrine. However, some senior ministers of previous regime pressurized officials to go ahead with the ill-conceived project in blatant violation of safety standards,” said an official, wishing anonymity.

“The then government even did not carry out the mandatory Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project by a standing committee of the Supreme Court. For gaining political mileage by developing amenities in Shaher-e-Khaas, loss of crores of rupees was caused to the State exchequer besides putting lives of passengers at risk,” he added.

Ironically, before commissioning of the ropeway, the then government had claimed to have “successfully tested” it on April 17. The ropeway has been designed to ferry 275 passengers per hour at a speed of three metres per second.

General Manager JKCCC, BadrulJamali, acknowledged that the ropeway has been closed. “The ropeway is under warranty. We have asked the company to replace the defective components at its own cost. Besides, we will recover revenue loss at the rate of Rs one lakh per month from the company since closure of project. Hopefully, the ropeway will restart by the end of this month,” Jamali said.

The JKCCC has constructed the Gulmarg Gondola, world’s second highest ropeway, through internationally acclaimed French cable car company- Pomoglaski. It one of the major attractions for tourists and professional skiers from world over.

“We have approached a Swiss company to upgrade the Makhdoom Sahib (RA) ropeway. We will ensure that the ropeway is at par with international safety standards,” said Managing Director JKCCC, Nazir Ahmad Mir.

The then Government had also envisaged revival of historic city of Naagar Nagar, built by Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar in 1589, by facilitating cable car through historic monuments in Shahr-e-Khaas including Koh-e-Maran Fort and its walled enclosure called Kalai, KathiDarwaza, SangeenDarwaza and Badamwari. However, with the change of government, the project could not take off.

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