The Bhawan-Bhairon passenger ropeway will be commissioned soon with a team of experts carrying out final trial runs and other safety tests, a senior official said.
The ropeway is expected to make travel easier for pilgrims to the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district.
“The trial and testing of the project formally started on November 26 and it is likely to conclude in the first week of December. The project will thereafter be put to use for the benefit of ‘yatris'”, said chief executive officer (CEO) of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Simrandeep Singh.
Besides trial and testing of the passenger ropeway, mock rescue and evacuation drills are also being conducted, simultaneously the shrine board staffers are being trained during the ongoing week-long session, the CEO said.
The disaster management task force (DMTF) of the shrine board organised rescue and evacuation drills.
CEO of SMVDSB, director security and enforcement Suresh Sharma along with a platoon of ‘sahayaks’ and a section of SDRF team from Reasi participated in the rescue drills. In total, 90 officials of the board and SDRF participated in the rescue exercises.
“Garaventa, the Swiss Company which has designed and executed the entire state-of-the-art project, conducted the drills and is training the board team for undertaking rescue operations which could be necessitated in the rarest eventuality,” the CEO said.
As part of the rescue exercises, CEO of the shrine board and other officers were evacuated from a mid-point location between Bhawan and Bhairon over a steep hill side. A medical team from Bhawan also participated in the exercise.
The shrine board’s much-awaited ropeway project is being executed by a joint venture of Swiss-based Garaventa AG and Damodar Ropeways Construction from Kolkata under the supervision of RITES.
The equipment and cabins of the ropeway have been imported from Switzerland, officials said, adding that the ropeway system was being fully equipped as per relevant safety standards.
The ropeway has a carrying capacity of 800 persons per hour. Pilgrims, particularly the elderly and the disabled, can now have a comfortable journey to the shrine to pay obeisance to the presiding deity at Bhaironji Temple, which was earlier difficult due to the steep climb at an altitude of 6,600 feet, they said.
The material ropeway between Siar Dabri and Bhawan was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 19 and it is fully operational now.
The system has made it easier for the shrine board to ferry construction and other materials such as foodstuffs, water and ‘prasad’. It is also used to transport waste material to Katra for disposal.