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Railway pitches boulders on tracks

Makeshift tents made by the evacuated villagers on the Kosi Mahasetu on Monday. Picture by Amit Anand

East Central Railway has sent a team to Saharsa to oversee precautionary measures being taken to save tracks in the event of a Kosi flood.

The team is camping at Koparia-Dhamara Ghat in the district, around 170km northeast of Patna, to check work on the adjacent Saharsa-Mansi railway section. It comes under East Central Railway (ECR)’s Samastipur division and is considered lifeline of the Kosi region.

In the 2008 Kosi floods, the tracks were completely damaged, while in 2011 and 2012, they went under water. Learning its lessons, the railways administration sent the team to Saharsa on Sunday. It is camping near the Fango railway halt.

According to records of the Central Water Commission received on Monday, the Kosi is flowing 2.5m below the danger mark. But the railways authorities do not want to take any chances.

Divisional railway manager, Samastipur, Arun Malik told The Telegraph: “At present, things are under control but the team is keeping a close eye on the situation.”

In 2011 and 2012, the 44km Saharsa-Mansi railway route came under immense pressure near the Fango railway halt.

He added: “Boulders have been pitched to protect them. The railways learnt its lesson from the 2008 flood (when tracks in the section were completely swept away). I have asked the engineers not to leave the spot unless the threat has passed.”

To ensure passengers’ lives do not come at stake, Malik also said: “In a 6km stretch of the railway line, where chances of soil erosion are severe, we have restricted train speed from 80kmph to 30kmph. We have decided to stop movement on this route if anything goes out of control. Adequate number of labourers is working with earth-moving machines and other equipment at the spot.”

Officials said in case of a flood, gauge conversion on an 118km stretch (under ECR in Bihar) would be affected. Chief public relations officer, ECR, Arvind Kumar Rajak said: “At present the situation is not alarming. Two rakes of boulder have reached Saharsa district and our best officers have been deputed to look into the matter.”


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