Trivedi predicts delay in Kashmir rail link due to less funding

Trivedi predicts delay in Kashmir rail link due to less funding

14 March 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi said today that prestigious rail project to Kashmir valley was likely to be delayed for want of adequate funding as he pointed out that Railways was passing through financial crunch and a very tough period. However, he announced electrification of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail line in the 12th five year plan, which was going to start from April 1 this year. Mr Trivedi also sanctioned a bridge factory and an Institute for Tunnel and Bridge Engineering for Jammu and Kashmir. Though no new train was announced for Jammu or Udhampur, the Railways Minister said that frequency of Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express, a weekly train between Udhampur-Jammu-Rohilla has been upgraded to thrice a week. In his budget speech in Lok Sabha today, a copy of which has been accessed by the Excelsior, Dinesh Trivedi announced that an Institute for Tunnel and Bridge Engineering would be set up at Jammu. 'A bridge factory would come up in Jammu and Kashmir’’, he said. Mr Trivedi said Udhampur-Katra and Qazigund-Banihal new railway line projects have been targeted for completion during 2012-13. Rail line to Katra had been hanging in balance for past quite sometime despite several years of completion of Jammu-Udhampur rail project. However, Udhampur-Katra rail line was now projected to be completed by December this year. The Railways Minister announced that Qazigund-Banihal rail section would also be completed during upcoming financial year of 2012-13. He said adequate funds have been released for completion of Udhampur-Katra and Qazigund-Banihal rail sections. He announced that weekly Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Udhampur AC Express has been converted into tri-weekly (thrice a day) via Ambala and Jalandhar. Other than increasing frequency of Sarai Rohilla AC Express, the Railways Minister didn’t propose any new train to Jammu or Udhampur. In another significant decision, Mr Trivedi said two new line projects pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir have been sent to Planning Commission for appraisal. The two projects including Bilaspur to Leh (via Kullu and Manali) and Udhampur-Katra-Doda-Bhaderwah and Doda-Kishtwar figured in the list of a total of 84 new line projects sent to the Planning Commission. 'The budgetary support to Railways has been pegged at a modest level of ' 24,000 crore as against projected requirement of ' 45,000 crore. The national railway project of Kashmir including Udhampur-Baramulla rail line had to be funded out of this amount. This project along with projects of North East region alone required Rs 4000 crore for the current financial year and may get delayed for want of adequate funding’’, Mr Trivedi said. The Udhampur-Baramulla railway line, the prestigious railway project, which would link Kashmir with rest of the country by rail and create an alternate link after Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, was earlier targeted to be completed in 2017. However, with the Railways Minister’s statement in the budget voicing financial constraints for the project, it could be delayed beyond 2017 as Mr Trivedi himself admitting that the projects may get delayed for want of adequate funding. 'With lower budgetary support, the deployment of capital would be lower to that extent. I am sure realizing the benefits of safety and modernization, the Government will enhanced the allocation of general budgetary support to Railways next year’’, he said. Complimenting the Indian Railways for the great achievement of completing 11 kilometers long tunnel through Pir Panjal mountain range, Mr Trivedi said it would provide connectivity to the Kashmir valley when Udhampur-Baramulla rail project was commissioned. 'This will be the longest transportation tunnel’’, he said and devoted a couplet in favour of valour Railways personnel for completing the tunnel, which read as 'Fauladi Hain Seenay Apne, Fauladi Hain Baahein, Hum Chahein To Paida Kar Dein Chatanon Mein Rahein’’. The Railways Minister proposed electrification of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line during 12th five year plan, which was starting from upcoming financial year of 2012-13. He proposed electrification of a total of 6500 kilometers rail track during 12th plan period. In the 11th five year plan, which was ending on March 31, 2012, he said 4500 kilometers rail track would be electrified. Without mentioning the name of China, which has been upgrading railway network along Jammu and Kashmir border in Ladakh besides other States of the country, which shared borders with the neighbouring country, Mr Trivedi said 'the national concern of safeguarding our borders also required to be adequately addressed. The geo-political situation on borders arising out of building of state-of-art road and rail network by neighbouring countries required a matching response. 'The Railways must remain in a state of preparedness to move men and machinery to border areas. It is, therefore, necessary to undertake such projects on priority and ensure adequate Government funding’’. He said there was also an emergent need to connect remote and backward areas through socially desirable rail connectivity scheme to foster growth. 'Besides, there are projects of national importance in Kashmir and North East, which were crucial to inclusive growth. The Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana as conceptualized by my leader Mamata Banerjee with the blessings of the Prime Minister is under formulation. The additional funding assistance required has been assessed at Rs 5 lakh crore under the PMRVY from the Government’’, Mr Trivedi said.