Lightning stops Gulmarg Gondola operations – temporarily

Courtesy GreaterKashmir: Gulmarg, Apr 23: The world’s highest and Asia’s longest cable car, Gondola, at Gulmarg has been damaged by lightning that struck it on Monday evening.
 A major tourist attraction, the ropeway has been closed for an indefinite period, the officials said.
  “The lightning has extensively damaged sensitive electric parts and control system of the Gondola’s first phase at Kangdoori. Fortunately there were no passengers in its cabins when the lightning struck it,” managing director, Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation, Javid Iqbal Panzoo told Greater Kashmir.
 The MD said a team of engineers from Mumbai has started work to restore Gondola. “There is no physical damage to the Gondola but it is very difficult to repair its electric parts. We are also in touch with the foreign engineers and are working on their instructions. We can’t compromise on safety of the passengers, but we will leave no stone unturned to restore it,” he said.    
 The ropeway was set up by the internationally acclaimed French cable car company, Pomoglaski, in collaboration with state government and its first phase up to Kongdoori was commissioned in 1998.
 The second phase of 2.5 km up to Apharwat peak situated at a height of 4390 metres is considered important for it is mostly used by foreign skiers to reach on the peak top for downhill skiing and snow boarding.   
 “We can’t operate the second phase until the first phase is restored. It will hamper our restoration work,” the MD maintained.  
 The Gondola has been facing frequent breakdowns since its construction. Last year, many foreign skiers were trapped inside the cabins on way to Apharwat due to technical snag in the ropeway. They were rescued after hectic efforts.
 The hoteliers of Gulmarg are concerned about breakdown of the Gondola. “Due to it many of our bookings have been already cancelled. If the Gondola is not restored immediately, it will cause us huge financial loss. Tourists visit Gulmarg mainly for Gondola. The State government and management of the Gondola must be equipped to keep it functioning in all conditions,” they said. 
 But the MD said machines can anytime develop technical snags. “We can’t prevent lightning as it is a natural phenomenon. In the wake of the huge tourist rush, we are hopeful to restore the Gondola as soon as possible,” he added.

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