PUNE: Three passengers were injured when boulders came crashing down on the Mumbai-bound Hubli-LTT Express at Monkey Hill near Khandala Ghat in the wee hours of Monday.
The incident took place around 5.15 am between the Monkey Hill and Thakurwadi section of the Khandala Ghat, which is about 125 kms away from Pune.
This is the third incident in one month involving boulders damaging trains in this area. This ghat stretch is considered one of the challenging ghats on Indian Railways.
Central Railway officials said the area becomes prone to boulders falling and landslides on heavy rainfall days and the Railways carries out regular inspection to minimise the risk.
“The problem at Monkey Hill is complex because of the vertical slope of the hills. We generally put meshes around the hills prone to slides and boulder falls. It’s very difficult if it’s a vertical cliff. There are several inaccessible areas which can’t be covered. Due to all these things, a solution to the problem is elusive,” said Udasi.
DK Sharma, General Manager, Central Railway visited the accident spot on Monday.
He ordered the officials to work on a plan to monitor the boulders using closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) which will help in preventing an accident like the one that happened on Monday.
“The idea is to monitor the boulder movement from the nearest station so that an approaching train can be alerted if a landslide or dislodging of boulders is detected. It would take some time before the system can be put in place,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway, Mumbai.
The boulder fell on one of the sleeper coaches (S-6 coach) of the 17317 Hubli-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express and completely damaged the roof.
After the incident, the train was taken to Karjat where the boulder was removed. The injured passengers were identified as Shivprasad Mallaappa Hiremath (27), a resident of Bhandup in Mumbai and Hussan Sab Beloki (59) and Mohammed Asif (25), both residents of Hubli district of Karnataka.
The injured were initially taken to the Kalyan Railway Hospital and then shifted to Fortis Hospital.
“Two of them received minor injuries on hands and knees while we shifted one of them to a private hospital. His condition is stable,” said Udasi.
The Pune-Mumbai route was affected briefly, but now is normal. Top officials of the Central Railway including General Manager DK Sharma rushed to the spot. Heavy rains may have been the root cause of this accident.
- On July 18, a minor landslide at Monkey Hill near Khandala ghat area resulted in derailment of the engine of Mumbai-Hyderabad Express. This delayed over a dozen trains coming to Pune from Mumbai.
- Another incident took place on July 22, when a boulder fell on heavy electric wire, that disrupted rail traffic on this route.