Completion of much awaited railway link

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Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday directed the railway authorities tom complete the 272 km-long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link by August 15, 2022. He reviewed the progress of the project with top railway officials and was told that 161 km length of the Rs 27,949 crore project has been commissioned. The world’s highest railway bridge with a height of 359 metres is coming up on the Chenab river under the project, while India’s first cable-stayed railway bridge on Anji Nallah in Reasi is also coming up along the link. Sinha also directed the railway authorities to expand the rail link towards unconnected areas of Rajouri-Poonch and Kupwara region. He was informed that a preliminary survey for the 223 km-long Jammu-Poonch rail link at an estimated cost of Rs 22,768 crore was completed and submitted in 2017, and for the 39 km-long Baramulla-Kupwara rail link with an estimated cost of Rs 3,843 crores, the survey has been completed and submitted to the Railway Board in July this year. Lt Governor sought detailed project reports of both the projects so that the matter could be taken up with the Ministry of Finance for sanctioning of these projects, the spokesperson said.

Surface communication is key to the development. It is pertinent to mention here that the only road connected Kashmir Valley directly with Jammu is Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The fragility of this road has had negative impact on the economy of Kashmir. A little drizzle and the road gets blocked. It is worst during winters as the road remains closed for days together. The unreliability of the road impacts the horticulture sector the most. Fruits with lesser shelf life rot on the highway when it remains closed due to landslides in bad weather. Secondly, Kashmir is a consumer society and most of the essential commodities come from other states. The frequent closures of the highway impact the supply of essentials thus giving an excuse to hoarders to sell the essentials on their choicest prices.

In this backdrop, the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is very vital for overall growth of Kashmir. It will not only resolve the transportation issues of fruit growers but would also be a great relief to the millions of commuters who travel to Jammu and rest of the country for jobs, studies, businesses, health issues of just for picnicking. One would expect LG administration to take the issue on priority basis and ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated time frame. Kashmir has a bitter experience of missing deadlines. Here it takes five years to lay a less than three kilo metre length flyover. The slow pace of work has made people cynical and that is why they take every official claim with a pinch of salt. It is therefore needed that the LG administration does everything to keep its word.

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