Two workers of 450 MW Shongtong hydropower Project[i] were killed when the trolley they were using overturned inside the tunn[ii]el of the under-construction project near Ralli in Kalpa Tehsil of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. The police have registered a case in connection with the incident.
Two workers sustained serious injuries in the incident at this Asian Development Bank funded project being executed by HPPCL when the trolly they were travelling up in under construction surge shaft of the project. They were sent to the Regional Hospital in Rekong Peo where they were declared dead. The deceased have been identified as Bihari Lal Thakur (foreman) of Shoula village in Shimla district and Khoob Ram (supervisor) from Gumahan village in Kullu district. According to a report, the trolly carrying the two supervisors was going up when a hook of the trolly broke, the trolly overturned, the workers fell down and the trolly fell over them.
According to another report, the Police Superintendent has filed a case of negligence under IPC 336 against the Patel Engineering company and started an inquiry.[iii]
On May 7, 2022, two workers were killed in almost identical manner at Tidong hydropower project in the same Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.[iv] An inquiry was set up to go into that disaster with report to come in a week, but no report is available as yet.[v]
Earlier disasters at the project Well known international landslide expert Dave Petley wrote in Oct 2018 about the landslide hazard being created by this project: “I have noted before that these Himalayan HEP developments are generating an unacceptable level of landslide risk. This is another example.”[vi] For more details of the hazards of the project, see article by Mansi Asher of Himdhara.[vii] Central Water Commission has been involved in the project too.[viii] In Nov 2018, in another accident at the bridge near the project, 25 people were injured.[ix] In July 2020, an article highlighted how precious trees were being felled for dumping of muck generated by the project.[x] In Nov 2015, in a blast at the same project, two workers were killed and others injured.