The red colour eight-coach Diesel Electric Multiple Unit train chugged on the Badgam-Nowgam sector of the Qazigund-Baramulla section of the Northern Railways this morning, with Governor, Mr N N Vohra, on board, reviewing the progress on the dream Railway Project in Kashmir.
As the train moved on the track, the Chief Administrative Officer, Northern Railways, Mr R K Gupta briefed the Governor on the salient features of this Railway Project of National Importance. Being in the priority sector, the funding for the execution of various works on this Project is being directly made by the Centre.
The Governor also conducted an aerial survey of the 10.96 kilometer long Pir Panchal tunnel from Banihal to Lower Munda, considered to be the longest tunnel on the Indian Railway network, and was apprised that the 199 kilometer Qazigund-Baramulla section will have 800 bridges. This section of the Project is estimated to cost Rs 2400 crores and so far about Rs 2200 crores have been spent, marking about 95 per cent of the work. The Qazigund-Baramulla section will have 15 stations and the Srinagar (Nowgam) Station will be,architecturally and aesthetically, the most beautiful station in the Indian Railways.
Later, in the day, the Governor reviewed in Srinagar, the progress on all the three sections of the J&K Railway Project at a high level meeting of officers.
The Governor enquired from the Northern Railways about the job opportunities available to the Kashmiri youth in the Project and was informed that once completed the Project would generate direct employment for 3900 persons in the Valley, in addition to indirect employment. The Railways is also processing 400 cases for providing employment to one person in each of the land loser families, those which have given to the Railways more than 75 per cent of their holdings, in Kashmir. Appointment letters have been issued to 120 candidates so far, who are undergoing training in different parts of the country.
Mr Vohra directed the Commissioner Works, Mr. Shalendra Kumar, to ensure the construction of approach roads to all the 15 Railway Stations in the Valley by October 31. He also called for expediting the land acquisition cases especially in Reasi and Ramban districts, and for this work to be also completed by 31 October. For this purpose, Commissioner/Secretary Revenue was directed to camp in Ramban and Reasi for a week. Likewise, the Commissioner Forest Department was asked to ensure clearance of all the pending land cases, after fulfilling all the requisite formalities by October 31.
The meeting also discussed the provision power connections to various Stations in all the three sections of the Railways and the concerned Engineers were asked to provide necessary logistics in this regard by October 15.
Mr Gupta stated that the Railways were constructing 270 kilometers of access roads, at the cost of the Railways, to carry machinery and equipment to the Project sites. After the completion of the Project, these roads would connect 60 villages and will be of immense use for the locals of the concerned areas.
To check the safety aspects, a trial run on the Kakapora-Pampore-Nowgam-Badgam track in the Qazigund-Baramula section has been conducted. The train has air-conditioned coaches with heating system and push-back seats.
Dwelling on the preparedness on the Qazigund-Baramulla section, Mr Gupta stated that the track and other infrastructure was ready for 66 kilometers from Annantnag via Srinagar to Rajwansher, Rescue and relief measures like Self Propelled Accident Relief Train had also been put in place and the skeleton staff posted.
The railway project in the State comprises three sections- Udhampur-Katra, Katra-Qazigund and Qazigund-Baramulla, taken up at a cumulative cost of Rs 11000 crores. For the current financial year, Rs 1000 crores have been earmarked.
The Katra-Qazigund segment will have the third highest bridge in the world, over River Chenab at Arnas in Reasi, 350 meters high from the bed level. The special feature of this section is that 80 per cent of the 148 kilometer track will be covered by tunnels and 12 per cent by bridges, thus leaving only 8 per cent open.
It was decided that the Chief Administrative Officer, Indian Railways, will send a fortnightly report to the Governor, reflecting both the progress and the difficulties to be resolved by the Jammu and Kashmir Government. The Governor observed that, with immediate effect, he would be personally reviewing this vital Project.
For ensuring adequate security of the Railway Project, the Government today gave approval for appointment of 2637 security personnel.
Among others present in the meeting were the Advisors to Governor, Mr H H Tyabji and Dr Sudhir S Bloeria, Principal Secretary Forests, Mr Iqbal Khandey, Principal Secretary to Governor, Mr B B Vyas, Commissioner/Secretary, Revenue, Mr Lokesh Jha, Commissioner/Secretary GAD, Mr Basharat Ahmed, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mr Masud Samoon, IGP, Kashmir, Mr Sriniwas and senior Police and Civil officers besides the officers of the Northern Railways