Jammu-Poonch Rail Link To Be Taken Up As National Project: GOI

Jammu-Poonch Rail Link To Be Taken Up As National Project: GOI

22 March 2012
Greater Kashmir
Anil Anand

New Delhi: The long pending project to lay Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch railway line via historic township of Akhnoor will finally see light of the day with Centre deciding to include it in the list of national projects. The projects under this category are taken up on priority with special financial provisions. This was announced by the new Railway Minister Mukul Roy while replying to the Railway Budget in Lok Sabha on Thursday. The rail link that will pass through treacherous hilly areas was first approved during the UPA-1 when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Minister and a survey was also got conducted by him. Jammu-Poonch MP, Madan Lal Sharma said that in the last yearís Budget, it had been decided to include the project in the 12th five year plan as it is an important rail link that will connect strategic areas all along the Line of Control. He welcomed the announcement and said that it will also help in the economic development of large number of backward and hill areas in the region and open up new vistas of tourism in the historic Poonch and Rajouri districts. Earlier speaking on the Railway Budget, Sharma demanded Jammu should be made the Divisional Headquarter of the Railways instead of Ferozepur under which Jammu area comes. This he felt was necessary as with the growing railway network in J&K it will not be feasible to control the area from Ferozepur. Sharma has also demanded that a stopover should be created at Samba for all major trains connecting Jammu to rest of the country. This he felt was necessary in view of the historic and strategic significance of Samba. Meanwhile, as expected, Roy announced partial roll back in railway fares. He withdrew the hike in rail passenger fares for second class suburban and non-suburban, sleeper, AC chair car and AC 3-tier which was announced by his party colleague and predecessor Dinesh Trivedi. The latter had to quit after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee took serious objection to the hike in fares. Roy kept untouched the increase of 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km respectively in passenger fares in AC 2-tier and AC-I. Replying to the debate on the Railway Budget, he also put on hold Trivediís proposal of setting up a committee to examine whether there should be an independent tariff regulatory authority. He scrapped Trivediís proposal to expand the Railway Board. Trivedi had proposed an increase of 10 paise per km each for AC Chair Car and AC 3-tier. Roy, however, did not refer to AC 2-tier and AC-I Class, for which his predecessor had proposed hike of 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km.