Representational image

Representational image
Incessant rainfall resulted in a landslide inside the railway tunnel on the Sevok Rongpu Railway project, killing two and leaving several others injured. The incident occurred at around 10:30 pm on Thursday. While the tunnelling operation was underway on the rail line project of IRCON in tunnel 10 at Bhalukhola in Kalimpong district, a landslide occurred. At least 7 workers were trapped inside the tunnel.

"A police team rushed from Melli police station to the spot. The trapped labourers were rescued and rushed to the Kalimpong district hospital. Two labourers were declared dead. Two others have been shifted to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and 3 sustained minor injuries and are under treatment at the Kalimpong hospital," stated Harikrishna Pai, Superintendent of Police, Kalimpong.

The deceased include Salku Murmu and Naresh Soren, both from Jharkhand. Thakur Das and Sufal Hembrem of Jhargram have been referred to NBMCH. Sukeshwar Singh, Ashok Singh of Jharkhand along with Kundan Singh of Bihar are recouping at the Kalimpong hospital. Work has been suspended at the site.

"There was a boulder slide from the sides of the tunnel. All safety measures were in place at the worksite. An inquiry has been initiated. Adequate compensation will be given to the family of the deceased," stated Mohinder Singh, project director, IRCON. During the tenure of Mamata Banerjee as the Railway Minister, the 44.96 km long railway link connecting Rongpu in Sikkim with Sevok on the Bengal side was given a go-ahead. The foundation of the project was laid by Banerjee on October 30, 2009.

The link will be of a total length of 44.98 km out of which 41.54 km will be in Bengal and 3.44 km in Sikkim. 38.64 km of the line will pass through 14 tunnels. There will be 22 (14 major and 8 minor) bridges.

Stations will include Sevok, Riyang near Rambi, Teesta Bazar (underground), Melli on the Bengal side along with Rongpu on the Sikkim side. The state-of-the-art New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), which is the fastest and safest method proven to be highly suitable for the Himalayan region, is being used. The project is pegged at Rs. 1400 crore. The railway link with Sikkim is of extreme importance in view of the strategic location of the Himalayan state sharing borders with China, as the issue of national security comes into play.