CS reviews Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Project

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The Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam, today chaired a meeting to review the progress of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link Project that will connect Kashmir valley with the rest of the country through a year-round-all-weather railway link.

The meeting was informed that the project to connect Kashmir valley with a railway line is progressing as per its schedule. Currently, the executing agency has fully utilized the extraction potential of sand and aggregate material in the allocated mines under its Short Term Permit – the supply of which needs augmentation from other mines.

The Chief Secretary said that the Mining Department has recently streamlined the process of lease of mines in J&K and consequently, the supply of construction material will improve in the coming weeks.

Further, to ensure the uninterrupted supply of construction material, the Mining Department and Deputy Commissioners were asked to regularly monitor the extraction from leased mines, besides resolving the bottlenecks in a time-bound manner.

Regarding the land requirement for the project, it was informed that 99% of the land has been acquired/ handed over to the executing agency and the civil works are advancing smoothly. Deputy Commissioners were asked to resolve all pending issues by 15.01.2021.

Other issues regarding the launch of Vistadome by Northern Railways, introducing shuttle services between Banihal and Udhampur and running of local passenger trains between Katra and Kathua were also discussed.

The Chief Secretary also appreciated the prompt response of Northern Railways during COVID-19 lockdown and their joint efforts with the Government of J&K in providing smooth and hassle-free travel to labour/workforce through the special ‘Shramik’ trains.

Administrative Secretaries of departments of Revenue, Power Development, Mining, and Transport, besides General Manager, Northern Railways, and representatives from IRCON participated in the meeting.

Project to be completed by Dec 2022: Northern Railway GM:

The Northern Railway will be completing the most difficult 111-kilometre long section of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link by December 2022, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“The work is going on in full swing. The prestigious project will be completed by the end of 2022”, Northern Railway General Manager Ashutosh Gangal told reporters here.

The 272 km railway line is being undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 28,000 crore by the Northern Railway.

He said that the first section connecting Udhampur to Katra and the third section between Banihal and Baramulla have been completed with both sections operational. The work to complete the most difficult Katra-Banihal section is going as per schedule, he added.

Gangal said that the railways was working to ensure that the project gets completed as per the scheduled time. He admitted that the COVID situation has affected the work on the project, he added.

He further said that the Udhampur-Katra (25 km) section, Banihal-Qazigund (18 km) section and Qazigund-Baramulla (118 km) section have already been commissioned.

The last remaining section, the 111 km Katra-Banihal section is currently under execution, he said adding that 126 km out of 174 km of tunnels on this section has already been completed.

A short film was also shown about the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line.

Northern Railway officials said the project is, perhaps, the most difficult new railway line project undertaken in the entire Indian subcontinent.

“The terrain passes through young Himalayas, which are full of geological surprises and numerous problems. For execution purposes, the project has been divided into three sub-sections”, he added.

Katra-Qazigund leg, which is the most difficult stretch of this project, and its alignment of this stretch which is 129 km long, passes through Patni and Pir Panjal ranges, they said.

He said this alignment requires construction of 62 important and major bridges and minor bridges, besides construction of 35 tunnels, totalling a length of 103 km bringing the percentage of the total length of the alignment of tunnels to approximately 80 per cent.

The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail project is highly essential to provide an alternative and reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir to join Kashmir Valley to the Indian Railways network, the officials said.

They said that in view of the importance of this project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir, the project was declared as a national project in 2002.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November last year took stock of the progress of the ambitious Udhampur-Baramulla rail link project and gave explicit instructions to expedite the work and complete it by next year.

PM Modi fixed the 2020 deadline for the ambitious project connecting Srinagar to Indian Railways network while chairing his 31st interaction meeting through PRAGATI with secretaries of various Union ministries and chief secretaries of various states and Union territories, the spokesman said.