Kashmir rail link project to be finished by 2020: Manoj Sinha

Kashmir rail link project to be finished by 2020: Manoj Sinha

Indian Railways will stick to its old alignment of route between Katra and Banihal section of Kashmir rail link project, the deadline for which has been extended to 2020, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Kumar Sinha said here today.

Railway officials have claimed that the arch bridge on the river Chenab connecting Katra and Banihal will be higher than Eiffel Tower.

The decision to stick to the old alignment of connecting Katra and Banihal via the bridge was taken unanimously by Railway Board, which also examined a report by a committee headed by Metro Man E Sreedharan which had suggested an alternate alignment, said Sinha, who laid foundation stone for two pillars of the bridge.

The committee, which was formed following a Delhi High Court order in connection with a petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), had suggested that the bridge was not safe during earthquakes, landslides and also due to its proximity to the Line of Control.

"This work got delayed unnecessarily due to PIL. But the Railway Board has unanimously decided to speed up the work... This rail line will be dedicated to the country by 2020. Rather, we will try to commission it before that. This will help people here commute to other parts of the country and vice versa," Sinha told reporters here.

Earlier, the target for completing the final leg of the 326-km rail link, which involves construction of the bridge above Chenab, was 2017.

"...we will work on the old alignment. This alignment was fixed after consulting IIT-Delhi, IISc Bangalore and many international organizations. The matter is before court, I wont comment on it. But we will insist to the court that we have taken the decision unanimously and it is in the interest of the bridge...," Sinha said.

Member (Engineering), Railway Board, V K Gupta said, "Height of the bridge will be 359 metre from river bed. When height of such bridge is measured, the entire structure is taken into account, so, the total height will be 475 meters, which is more than that of Eiffel tower".

He further said the bridge will have state-of-the-art security features. Meanwhile, local residents expressed hope that the project will be completed soon.
"We will get employment due to the project. Our lands were acquired for it. If the project is stalled, we will be in trouble as our lands are already gone," said Raman Kumar, Sarpanch of Kanthan village in the district.

Total cost of the entire project is Rs 19,564 crore and the government has spent Rs 10,975 crore on it as on May 2015.

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