Can harsh climatic conditions and tough terrain lead to a happy working environment?
Yes, says the project team of Propel Industries which erected a plant at Dangduru, Jammu and Kashmir.
The team was at work in 2020 for M/s Katyayani Construction which had taken up the project of M/s Japee group construction for Pakaldul Hydro Power project.
We, a team of 8, embarked on our professional trip. There was a mixed emotion of excitement and anxiety. Uncertainty over climatic conditions loomed large, though we were super confident about our engineering prowess.
It was 10-hour train travel from Delhi to Jammu. The night stay in Jammu was a much-needed one to rejuvenate ourselves.
The following day we took a bus to Kistbar. It came as a surprise to us that there is only bus service available on any given day and that it starts at 5.30am from Jammu.
This again is a 10-hour drive and we had to climb up the hill. It was certainly an uphill task!
The bus was going at a slow pace and we were sure it was around 30 km/hr.
We learnt from the local people that public transport was rare and few. It does not run continuously. We looked at each other, thinking how much we take certain things for granted.
Private vehicles are available but they tend to charge exorbitant fares.
The town of Kistbar is a fully militarized area and we found it to be an odd sight, quite different from what we have been used to, in other parts of our country.
Lodging was a major issue in Kistbar and we were thankful to our customer as he had it booked for us.
All the engineers stayed at Ikhala, which was 6 kilometres from the site.
We used to travel by road to reach the site but the 6-kilometre stretch would take one and half hours, provided landslides or snow had not blocked the way.
Our conversation with the customer revealed the climatic conditions of the site.
He said that the minimum temperature is -5 degree Celsius and the maximum is 3 degrees. And he calls it(3 degrees) summer!
He also revealed that a bad winter would have temperature as low as -10 degrees.
The plant was located just 150 kilometres from the Line of Control (LOC) and we witnessed protests every second day. These protests by the public did disturb the plant erection work.
Our team took close to one month to complete the plant erection as lot of factors played against faster work execution. These included rain, land slides, protests and low temperature.
Getting skilled manpower was another major problem that we faced. In fact, the contractor had to pay extra money to get people to work in that place.
The customer also had limitations. Inspite of his best intentions, there was difficulty in procuring crane, welding machine etc on a continuous basis due to remote location.
Getting food on time was also a Herculean task. We faced manpower issues because food was not supplied on time. The rooms allocated for the labour folk was 3 kilometres from the site but they had to walk up and down the hill which would take close to one hour, one way.
Another major challenge that we faced was the transfer of material from factory to site. There were no courier services available for the site location.
The customer had unloaded all the machines and materials, 10 kilometresaway from the site, so almost all the material had scratches.
Inspite of all odds, the Propel team was able to complete the plant erection and we were so proud seeing our Propel plant stand majestically amid mountains, snow and river!
The inputs for the blog has been provided by Mr Narendra Kumar Gour from Projects department.