Explained: All about Parwanoo’s Timber Trail ropeway where tourists got stuck

On October 13, 1992, at least 11 people, including one attendant, were left stuck after a cable wire snapped leaving the cable car dangling 1,300-ft above the Kaushalya river. A subsequent rescue operation mounted by the Indian Air Force and the Army lasted over two days before the last  one among those stranded was pulled out.

When did the Timber Trail ropeway come up?

The 1.8-km ropeway between two hills in Parwanoo was originally set up by Aarcoinfra Ropeways, a Hyderabad-based company, in 1988 for the Timber Trail resorts owner R K Garg. The ropeway was designed to handle a maximum capacity of around 1,000 passengers per hour and travel the 1.8 km stretch in approximately 8-9 minutes.

How does this ropeway work, and who maintains it?

The Timber Trail is a bicable ropeway and its cable cars are called Gundola Cabins.

Every cabin moves on two cables that are designed according to the designated load to be carried.

“Bicable ropeways are considered the safest aerial ropeway technologies around the world. The ropes usually don’t snap, unless the maintenance is extremely poor. Even if one cable snaps, the cabin will not fall because the other rope will hold it,” said Sanjay Singh, GM (Ropeways projects, Aarconinfra Ropeways).

He added that Aarconinfra Ropeways handed over the project to the resort owners after completion.

“We executed the project and handed it over to the owners of the resort. We have signed agreements thereafter where the owners have stated that they do not want us to maintain it. They have their own technical manpower for maintenance of the ropeway,” said Singh.

What are the safeguards in place to prevent ropeway accidents?

Section 20 of the Himachal Pradesh Aerial Ropeways Act, 1968, covers accidents, rescue operations, compensation and the liability of the operator/promoter of ropeways across the state.

About reporting a ropeway accident, the Act says that when “any accident occurs in the course of working an aerial ropeway, the promoter shall send notice of the mishap to the state and to the inspector”. It is incumbent upon the promoter to inform the district magistrate, and the local police about any accident without delay.

Section 20-A of the same Act under the head of ‘rescue operations’ reads, “If the state government incurs any expenditure during any rescue operation, the promoter shall be liable to pay the expenditure incurred.”

Under Section 20-B of the Act, the promoter, in case of an accident, is liable to provide “comprehensive insurance cover, in the manner as may be prescribed, to the persons availing aerial ropeway services”, adding that the “state government shall not be liable for any claim on account of any accident or mishap in such ropeway projects”.

The rate of comprehensive insurance is decided by the state on the advice of an expert committee.

Are more ropeway projects coming up in Himachal?

In January, the Himachal government announced 13 more ropeway projects having a total length of 111.65 km at an estimated cost of Rs 5,644 crore.

These will include one in Pangi valley of Chamba district (ropeway proposed from Bhanodi to Killar via Sach pass – 21.7 kms); three ropeways in Kullu district (Prini and Hamta Pass in Manali having length of 5.8 km; another proposed in Manali with 11.2 km length and third proposed between Manali and Labadugh with 2.7 km length).

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In Kangra district, a ropeway project is proposed between Palampur, Thathri to Chunja glacier covering a length of 13.5 km, while another 14-km ropeway project is to be set up at Dharamshala. In Shimla, a ropeway is proposed between Narkanda-Hatu peaks covering 3.10 km, while another has been proposed with 22.4 km length.

In Solan district, ropeway projects will come up in Kasauli (3 km), in Bilaspur between Lunhu and Bandla (3 km), and in Sirmaur’s Churdhar with 8 km length. A 3-km ropeway project has also been proposed between Shikawari and Bhatkidhar in Mandi district.

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