GUWAHATI, June 12 - After the devastation wrought by the monsoon floods last year, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has taken steps to prepare for the rainy season this year and promptly deal with any contingency.
“Areas under NFR face the heaviest monsoon showers every year. This is an area which is criss-crossed by a large number of rivers. So hundred per cent preparedness is the only way of facing the fury of Nature,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, CPRO of NFR told The Assam Tribune.
NFR has kept ready 184 wagon-loads of boulders. “Called the ‘on-wheel’ reserve of boulders, these wagons are kept ready to be rolled out at the slightest hint of danger, like abnormal rise in water level or damage to bridge approaches and other structures. Again, 80,000 cubic metres of boulders have been stocked at approaches of major and important rivers and at locations which are traditionally known to be vulnerable to breaches,” he said.
He added, “Boulders are generally the first line of defence when flood waters hit a railway embankment or cause abnormal scour around a bridge pillar. Pre-fabricated steel channel blocks called ‘CC cribs’ also come in handy for erecting temporary supports in water for bridging gaps caused by washouts. As many as 5,000 such cribs have been kept ready.”
The NFR has 32 locations which have been designated as vulnerable. “These sites are being monitored 24x7 for any sign of distress by posting stationary watchmen. During the monsoon, patrolling of entire lengths of tracks is also carried out on foot by specially equipped patrolmen. They are provided with walkie-talkie sets and high-power torches. Of late, NFR has also provided them with GPS sets,” said Sharma.
The railway has also stockpiled 271 rolled steel joists for construction of temporary bridges for quick restoration of track connectivity in case of any breaches.
Services to and from the NE region and rest of the country had been disrupted for three weeks in August last year after rising flood waters in eastern Bihar had washed away bridges.