‘Agency in a hurry to complete tunnel works’

Safety not a top priority in tunnel works, say experts

September 21, 2017 11:51 pm | Updated 11:52 pm IST - RAJANNA-SIRCILLA

The death of seven labourers at the irrigation tunnel of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project on Wednesday has bought to the fore the safety standards being followed by the project executing agencies.

Even as the people are yet to recover from the Thippapur incident, another migrant labourer died when the roof collapsed on him at a tunnel in Mallapuram village of Dharmaram mandal in Peddapalli district on Thursday.

Though, there were regular incidents of migrant labourers getting fracture injuries at the worksite of various tunnel works in the region and they were being sent home, but it did not make news.

Safety overlooked

The recent incident of seven labourers being killed when the roof caved in at Thippapur village of Illanthakunta mandal shows that safety was not accorded importance by the executing agencies who were only bothered about completion of the project in a time-bound manner.

The State government’s prestigiouos Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project from Sripada Yellampalli project to the Mallannasagar had already set a milestone for having the longest tunnels — 81 kilometres. The 7.46 km long and 9.5 m wide tunnel in progress at the Thippapur village in Illanthakunta mandal was a part of that. This tunnel also has a 56m wide and 92m deep surge pool designed to store about one tmcft of water and lift the same to the Ananthagiri reservoir in Siddipet district.

Time-bound project

The irrigation experts and mine safety officers of the Singareni Collieries Company Limited said that the executing agency was in a hurry to complete the project in a record time, by January next year, and neglected safety measures at the tunnel. An irrigation official said that after blasting inside a tunnel, the roof and walls of the tunnel and sides of the shaft have to be inspected by an expert and a check conducted using sensors for air pockets.

Experienced crew

The scaling should be performed by experienced crew under the supervision of competent authority, but it was lacking in the Thippapur tunnel and other tunnels, he noted.

The mine safety officials of Singareni say that the adequate support such as roof bolts, timber or steel supports should be used after every excavation and prolonged interval between two operations should be avoided as the risk of accidents increases with such delays. After mucking operation is over, the profile of excavation should be examined by professionals, who would decide whether the support in the form rock-bolts, steel ribs or shot concrete is required for further operations, they said.

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