Jammu, Feb 26 (IANS) The Indian Railways’ plan to cut through the mountains in Jammu and Kashmir, construct bridges and bore tunnels and get the train chugging into the Kashmir Valley in 2017 is a deadline on which doubts have been cast by many, the latest being Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in his tweet posted: “Rail line (from Udhampur to Srinagar) date is given in 2017. Banihal-Qazigund day break this year December & line opening in 2013. Now let’s wait & see.”
The Banihal-Qazigund line was to be ready by December 2011, but now the deadline has been postponed to 2013.
His predecessor Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was excited when the Udhampur-Srinagar project was declared as a “national project” and the railways committed that it would be completed by August 2007. But four years have passed since the last deadline and there is no sign of the rail reaching the valley anytime soon.
The work so far has been sluggish because of the low allocation of funds – the next financial year’s allocation is Rs.1,100 crore. By the current price index, the project cost is over Rs.19,000 crore and only Rs.6,000 crore have been spent so far. The second reason is the militancy and the ever-recurring summer unrest in the valley.
Kashmiri protesters had torched the railway stations and uprooted the tracks last year, and before that militants had bombed the rail tracks. The uncertain situation continues to affect the progress of the work, according to sources in the railways here.