Engineering pegged at Rs.1.5 cr; commercial loss being worked out

Southern Railway has made it clear that Titagarh Marine, the private company which was towing the barge that crashed into Pamban rail bridge on Sunday, should accept liability for the damage and pay compensation of Rs.1.5 crore, before taking the vessels.

“Southern Railway will permit the tug boat and the barge to cross the bridge only if the private company pays the compensation towards the engineering cost (repairing the bridge),” Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Madurai Division, A. K. Rastogi, told The Hindu .

The engineering cost has been worked out at Rs.1.5 crore and commercial loss due to non-operation of trains was being worked out, he said indicating that Southern Railway would claim the loss towards engineering cost from the private company.

He said that the tug boat, which continued to remain stuck in the rocks near the bridge, and the barge, which was anchored at the Rameswaram port, would be allowed to pass through the bridge to proceed to Karwar only if the company gave a bank guarantee or a clear commitment towards payment of the compensation.

The company was 100 per cent responsible for causing the damage to the bridge, Mr. Rastogi said. The tug boat and the barge should have been anchored away from the bridge.

Answering a question, he said that the commercial loss due to non-operation of trains since Sunday was being worked out and could be around Rs.2 crore. About 2,000 people travelled in a train and Southern Railway had partially and fully cancelled a number of trains after the mishap.

Besides the loss, the cancellation and partial cancellation of trains had caused huge inconvenience to the pilgrims, especially elderly people who were visiting Rameswaram from north. They were forced to take to the road from Madurai and Tiruchi to reach Rameswaram, he said.

Stating that the restoration work was progressing satisfactorily, Mr. Rastogi was hopeful that train services would be resumed on Sunday.

“There are heavy winds and a strong under water current but the team of bridge engineers, assisted by divers and contract workers, are doing their best to complete the work at the earliest.”

He said that the engineers would assess the strength of the temporary piers being erected on either side of the damaged pier and other foundations using underwater cameras, before allowing the first train to cross the bridge.

Salvage operations

Shilpa Marine, a Tuticorin-based company, could not start operations to salvage the tug boat on Wednesday in the absence of a work order. The operation is likely to commence on Thursday after the Kolkata-based company issues the work order, sources said.

Sources in the Navy said that a team from Kolkata was expected to arrive at Rameswaram to assess the extent of damage to the barge after it rammed the bridge. The Navy would accept the barge only after the private company repaired all damage to its fullest satisfaction.