Ramban tunnel collapse: Experts call for replacing detonators with autostem safety cartridge

‘Detonator explosion shockwaves weaken, fracture and destabilise earth strata’
Ramban tunnel collapse: Experts call for replacing detonators with autostem safety cartridge
According to officials the 10 workers lost their lives when a part of an under construction tunnel at Khoni Nallah on Srinagar-Jammu highway collapsed. Mir Imran for Greater Kashmir

Jammu: Realising the danger of detonators’ use in road and tunnel constructions, demand to replace it with environment-friendly and safe alternatives like ‘autostem safety cartridge’ is growing, following the collapse of a part of tunnel at Khooni Nallah on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway consuming 10 precious lives.

The issue is debated by the security experts as well, while linking it with ‘national security.’

The danger to the lives of commuters is also a main concern for the authorities in a landslide prone zone like Ramban-Banihal stretch of Srinagar Jammu National Highway. The landslides and shooting stones become a serious threat amid ongoing widening work.

In these circumstances, the government and infrastructure agencies have started looking at such alternatives to enhance safety and preserve the environment.

Amid the use of detonators by the companies in the construction of tunnels on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the retired Indian Army officers have suggested use of ‘autostem safety cartridge’ as an option to replace the traditional use of detonators which is damaging the environment and its destruction often crosses the desired limits. These ‘autostem safety cartridges’ are considered as the safest and most advanced high performance blast technology.

Vice president (Technical), Safe Green Mining Technology Private Limited, Brigadier (retired) Krishan Kumar - an Indian army veteran and an expert in advanced ammunition and explosives management – told Greater Kashmir, “The use of detonators in mining and tunneling must be replaced with ‘autostem safety cartridges’ which are safe and environment friendly rock excavation option.”

“Border Road Organisation is using these ‘autostem cartridges’ in the country like many other countries in the world,” Brig (retired) Kumar said while elaborating about the adverse effect of detonators on the environment.

‘Autostem safety cartridges’ technology has been brought to India from South Africa.

“Autostem breaks any known rock without disturbing the surrounding earth strata,” he said while referring to the tragic tunnel collapse in Ramban district recently.

He advised the use of modern technology i.e., ‘autostem safety cartridges’ in place of detonators as the traditional techniques had adverse impact on the surrounding environment.

“The present Government’s intent to develop roads and tunnels using top technology is commendable. However, a neglected facet merits attention contracting agencies continue to utilize commercial explosives, a technology that is century old and dangerous especially in mountainous regions,” he said, while referring to Ramban district and some stretch of Udhampur on the highway.

Citing an example, he said, “Explosives detonate at 8 km per second and destroy much more than desired. The shockwaves of the explosion weaken, fracture and destabilize the earth strata which cannot be seen with the naked eye.”

“However, when the water ingress, the post explosion (using detonator) can be seen with the triggering of landslides and tunnel collapse as it happened recently,” he told Greater Kashmir.

He said that the environmental degradation and damage was incalculable with the use of traditional explosive material.

“It also becomes the cause of the loss of lives. The ‘autostem safety cartridge’ is an environment friendly, collateral safe alternative to conventional explosive for excavation of rocks and tunnels. It is easy to use with no detonation, no shockwave, minimal vibrations and rock throw. There is no damage to mountain slopes. Hence, the land-slides and tunnel collapse can be avoided and we can also preserve nature,” he added.

He said that ‘autostem cartridges’ were being used in over 70 countries including all G-8 countries.

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