The Srinagar-Baramulla-Udhampur railway project's completion has been delayed by over 16 years resulting in cost overrun of Rs 25,446 crore, reveals a union government report.
According to union ministry of statistics and program implementation report, the cost of the project was estimated at Rs 2,500 crore when it was approved in March 1995, it was expected to be completed in 2002. Since then it has missed several deadlines set by the successive union governments.
Due to delay, its cost has escalated to Rs 27,946 crore with expected commissioning in 2020, the report mentions.
Srinagar-Baramulla-Udhampur Railway line project is being executed by Northern Railways.
According to railway officials, completion of this section of railway link is unlikely to meet the revised deadline set by the union railway ministry due to 'slack approach of the state government in acquiring land for laying the railway lines'.
The cost of the entire project has increased to Rs 27946 crore against which an expenditure of Rs 16131.46 crore has been made till date.
Once completed the Srinagar-Jammu rail link will provide all-weather connectivity and be a cornerstone for development of Jammu and Kashmir.
The rail link, apart from helping the people of Kashmir to take rail route across the country and will also help tourists from various states to reach directly to Srinagar and Baramulla. It will be also be of great strategic importance as the Valley remained cut off due to landslides on the Srinagar –Jammu highway during snowfall season.
The then AtalBihari Vajpayee Government had in 2002 declared Jammu-Srinagar rail link as national project and fixed August 15, 2007 as deadline for its completion. However, since then several deadlines were set for completion of the project but all of them were missed. About two-thirds of the 326 km Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is ready. The portion that needs to be completed is a 111 km stretch between Katra, the Hindu pilgrimage town near Jammu, and Banihal on the slopes of Kashmir valley. Banihal is connected to Baramulla via Srinagar, while Jammu is linked to Katra via Udhampur.
The Katra-Banihal project is considered the toughest in the country's engineering history and involves the construction of 27 bridges, including the tallest rail bridge in the world, and 37 tunnels, one of which is the longest in Asia at more than 12 km.
As per the latest flash report of the statistics and programme implementation ministry, 204 projects of railways are facing total cost overrun of Rs 1.82 lakh crore including Kashmir rail project. The ministry monitors central sector projects with expenditure of Rs 150 crore and above.
According to the report, up to April this year the total original cost of these 204 projects was Rs 1,29,339.96 crore. The total anticipated cost of these projects is estimated at Rs 3,12,026.83crore which indicates overall cost escalation by 141.25 per cent.
The ministry monitored 330 projects of Indian Railways in April. The report stated that 46 of these projects reported time overrun or delay of 3 months to 261 months. After railways, power sector reported second highest incidence of overall cost overrun.