Gangtok: The ambitious passenger ropeway at Bhaleydhunga cliff in South Sikkim district is nearing completion and is likely to be operational by October this year.
The project for which work started in November 2014 will be completed almost after three years from its initial proposed time frame of completion in 36 months.
The site engineer of the construction company RIPL, Rajiv Kumar, told EastMojo, that if the work progresses at this pace and without any hurdles, the ropeway will be completed by October.
RIPL is the consultant for the civil works of the ropeway project while French company Puma is undertaking the 3,024-metre-long ropeway in the first phase of the Bhaleydhunga skywalk project planned at a height of 3,158 metres. The ropeway connects Dhapper at Upper Yangang to the famous Bhaleydhunga cliff.
Talking about the slew of reasons which led to a delay in the project, the site engineer if RIPL said, construction work could not be started as scheduled due to over eight-month delay in getting forest clearance. It got further delayed due to inclement weather and rain for at least nine months and the remaining three months being extremely cold.
“Sometimes, there was no progress at all. Rainwater would fill the pits dug throughout the day,” said Kumar.
The passenger ropeway between Dhapper and Bhadleydhunga has currently employed around 150 workers of which at least 80% are said to be locals. Water has to be supplied from Dhapper in 200-litre drums for construction purpose at Bhaleydhunga where mercury levels plummeted to minus 4 degrees further causing delay in the work.
Adding to the hardship is the lack of power supply in the area, prompting the construction company to largely depend on generator sets to work with equipment on site.
As per the site in-charge, the vertical length of the passenger ropeway would be 1,358 m. The first station of the ropeway is located at 1,810 m altitude while the top station is being constructed atop Bhaleydhunga at a staggering height of 3,158 m.
It is proposed to have 18 trolleys with a capacity of eight passengers each. The maximum speed of the ropeway is 6 metres per second but due to harsh weather conditions, it will function at a speed of 3 m or 4 m per second. The total time taken will be 12 minutes to 16 minutes to reach from the base station at Dhappar to Bhaleydhunga using the ropeway, he said.