Restoration work on the damaged Pamban Rail bridge was in full swing on Tuesday, even as the Coastal Security Group (CSG) filed a case against the Kolkata-based private company which built the barge that crashed into the bridge early on Sunday.
The CSG filed a case against Titagarh Marine Ltd under section 151 of the Indian Railways Act 1989 for damaging railway property. The marine police wing of the CSG launched an investigation by interrogating the Captain and crew members of the tug boat, which was towing the barge to Karwar for being handed over to the Indian Navy.
The 162-tonne tug boat still remains stuck between rocks a few yards away from the bridge. The 220-tonne barge has, however, been towed away and anchored at the Rameswaram port, an official at the Pamban Port said.
Two days after the freak accident, which has cut off rail traffic to the pilgrim centre of Rameswaram island, a large team of engineers from the Madurai Division of Southern Railway, divers from Tuticorin and local fishermen are straining every nerve to put the bridge back in order, under the direct supervision of the Chief Bridge Engineer who flew down from Chennai on Sunday.
Though initial reports suggested that the 121st pier had tilted to 60 degrees after the barge crashed into it following anchor failure, officials said it had tilted to 47 degrees. They heaved a sigh of relief as there has not been much of damage to the girder.
The restoration work commenced on Sunday itself, when the Railways moved the men and material, a senior official at the worksite said. Two temporary piers using steel cribs are being erected on either side of the damaged pier to support the gird, he said. After erecting the two piers, the damaged pier would be dismantled and another temporary pier with steel cribs would be erected, after which train services would resume.
“We are planning to complete the entire work in seven days. We should be able to clear the first train by Sunday (January 20) or latest by Monday (January 21),” he said. The construction of temporary piers was a real challenge due to heavy under water current, the official said. “We have deployed the best divers, but work could be undertaken only for two hours in early morning and two hours in the evening, because of heavy water current,” he said.
He said the erection of the first pier on Pamban side, where the depth of sea is two metres, has almost been completed.
Erection of a similar pier on the Mandapam side, where the depth is three metres, would be completed by Wednesday evening or by Thursday, the official said.
After the erection of the two piers, the existing damaged pier would be dismantled and a third temporary pier erected.