New Delhi: The Indian Army Sunday averted disaster by realigning the flow of River Chakki in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh in record time, mobilising its forces for over 96 hours to create an alternate flow channel for the river using a column of heavy earth-moving equipment.
A week ago, a part of the almost century-old colonial era railway bridge on the Chakki river, connecting Pathankot in Punjab with Kangra, had collapsed due to heavy rainfall. On 2 August, the bridge had been declared unfit for plying by the railway authorities.
A sizable portion of the bridge on the Pathankot-Joginder Nagar rail route was washed away after upstream areas of the river saw cloudbursts that caused repeated flash floods.
The collapsed bridge also further accelerated soil erosion, which was progressing towards the roadway bridge in Kandra.
Sensing imminent threat and blockade, the Kangra district administration requested relief efforts from the Indian Army on 25 August.
According to sources in the army, the Pannirende Sappers unit of the Rising Star Corps employed a column of 40 heavy earth-moving equipment working over 96 hours in coordination with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and began river diversion operations by creating an alternate channel for the river flow, thereby effectively reducing the chances of further erosion.
This was followed by creating deep channels in the Chakki River and covering the area with concrete bunds, that reduce the water flow by over 70 per cent, and securing the piers of the roadway bridge.
Amid torrential currents, the forces managed to create a diversion for the river — thereby securing a part of the bridge connecting Punjab to Leh.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)