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USBRL – Path to Prosperity

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By: Shahid Shabir Hussain Makhdoomi

Being personally monitored by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) – a project of National Prestige is aimed at providing seamless and hassle free connectivity to the land locked valley of Kashmir. With an estimated cost of Rs 37012.26 Cr it shall provide all weather connectivity to this Himalyan territory and prove a game changer by all means. The all-weather, comfortable, convenient and cost effective mass transportation system will be the catalyst for over-all development of the northern most alpine region of the country.

Connecting Kashmir to the rest of the country is a welcome step as a whole. The railway connectivity will also open up new economic opportunities for the people living in the area.

For decades, J&K has been cut off from the rest of India in terms of rail connectivity, and the region has relied heavily on road transportation for both passengers and goods. The lack of railway connectivity has made travel to and from the region difficult, cumbersome and time-consuming. It also has been putting travellers to discomfort affecting the economy and hindering development.

The completion of the project will be a significant achievement for the government. It is a crucial step towards the integration of the region with the rest of India and will pave the way for further development in the area.

The completion of the project will have a significant impact on the economy of J&K, as it will open up new opportunities for trade and commerce. It will also provide better connectivity for tourism, which is a significant contributor to the state’s economy. The railway line will also improve access to healthcare and education facilities in the region.

The project’s completion will also have strategic significance, as it will enable the quick movement of troops and equipment to the region in case of any emergency. The railway line will provide a faster and more efficient mode of transportation for the security forces stationed in the area.

The strategic importance of the project to Jammu and Kashmir and to the nation as a whole cannot be overstated, and this has been recognised as such by the visionary leadership of the country.

This project is expected to bring about socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir through enhanced connectivity within the region and with rest of the county. It is the project of economic and strategic importance & shall shape the future of this region better.

The distinctive features of this railway link make it an engineering marvel passing through rugged terrains and tectonic thrusts and fallouts of young Himalayas. The caved tunnels and cable stayed bridges on this track make it more attractive. The iconic cable stayed bridge over chenab is a testimony to the unparalleled skills of the engineers and planners associated with the project.

Chenab Bridge is the world’s highest railway bridge at 359m height from river bed. It has a total length of 1315m and consists of 17 spans with the longest span being an arch span of 467m which lies above Chenab River valley. The Bridge is designed with special consideration to wind and seismic forces such that it can withstand winds up to 266 Kmph and earthquakes of zone-V. The bridge is also designed for blast load in consultation with DRDO for the first time in India.

Another interesting fact about the bridge is that approximately 584 Km welding has been done to join the different parts of the structure, which is to the tune of distance between Jammu Tawi to New Delhi. The height of the cable crane’s pylon at Srinagar end is 127m, which is much taller than the Qutub Minar of 72m.

Challenges have been overcome, unimaginable successes achieved and milestones established in turning this ambitious project after independence into a reality.

Socio economic development of this region is likely to scale new heights with more tourist inflow and transportation of horticulture produce from here. Kashmir craft industry shall also be witnessing a new dawn with accessibility to national market. This link shall be a tool to bridge the economic gaps and bring about economic prosperity. Moreover, it shall be a harbinger of tourism development, resuscitating Kashmir tourism creating a win win situation for all.

This project shall pave way for the further expansion of the railway network in Kashmir and serve as a path to prosperity. Reliable connectivity and transportation within the UT and between the region and the rest of India are critical for India’s economic growth. Poor connectivity has negatively impacted the economic development of 70 percent of the Valley’s population, which is dependent on farming and perishable fruit cultivation. The completion of these infrastructure projects will boost the development of the region’s horticulture sector, a mainstay of the region’s economy.

The railway transport system is four times more economical and six times more energy efficient than roads. Railway connectivity will thus not only cut transport costs but ensure minimum wastage of the perishable farm products and timely supply of fresh produce to different markets across India. Similarly, the free movement of agricultural goods on the highway will be a game changer for the Valley’s farmers.

The completion of these infrastructure projects will boost the development of the region’s horticulture sector, a mainstay of the region’s economy. These infrastructure projects will also give an impetus to the region’s tourism industry, enable it to achieve its full potential, and reduce the UT’s soaring unemployment rate, as new destinations will emerge along these new connectivity corridors. Jammu & Kashmir has once again emerged as India’s favourite tourist destination post-2019; in 2022, 1.88 crores of domestic and international tourists visited the UT.

Revival of tourism will mean that the UT administration will have to create additional tourism infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of tourists and promote newer destinations. However, the issues of conservation and protection of ecology and environment needs to be prioritized to avoid natural disasters and calamities keeping in view the fragility of the zone.

On the other side, seamless connectivity with the rest of India will help and encourage local students to travel to different parts of India for education and employment. Greater assimilation with other parts of India will facilitate the much-needed revival of Kashmir’s syncretic culture and foster purposeful integration of the region’s society.

This railway link is equally important strategically and responsible for strengthening the security of the region sharing long borders with China & Pakistan.

Having joined the bandwagon of inclusive development and hitting the targets of growth and prosperity, Kashmir surely shall emerge on the international horizon with all the colors of a rainbow, hopefully with all the scars healed.

(Courtesy: PIB Srinagar)

Author is a freelance writer.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are author’s own.

 

 

 

 

 

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