SHIMLA: With the BJP in power both at Centre and in Himachal Pradesh, the railway line expansion in the state is expected to get the much needed boost. During the recent assembly elections, BJP’s national leaders were asking people to bring party to power to propel the speed of development in the state. To ensure enough allocation of funds for pending rail projects in the state, the state government has recently written to Centre.
The economy of the hill state thrives on tourism industry with popular destinations like Shimla, Manali, Kasol, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Kinnaur and Spiti located here. Surprisingly, Himachal neither has good air connectivity, nor rail connectivity. Sources said that now chief minister Jai Ram Thakur-led state government through a letter to the government of India has demanded declaration of Bilaspur-Bhanupalli-Leh rail link as a project of national importance so that construction activity could speed up.
The start of final location survey for this 498 km-long rail line has left residents of Lahaul-Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir elated as it would not only be of immense strategic importance for defence forces along the China border, but would also boost tourism activity in these areas by ensuring all weather connectivity. The survey is expected to be completed by 2019 after which the construction of rail line is expected to start.
The survey is a precursor to actual construction from Bilaspur to Leh via Manali. The alignment shall connect Mandi, Kullu, Manali, Keylong and other important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir en route. The line from Bilaspur shall be further connected to Bhanupali between Anandpur Sahib and Nangal Dam.
The sources said that for this strategically important project funds would be a major challenge as land needs to be acquired in districts of Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh besides Leh in J&K.
In past budgets, several announcements were made but they remained only on paper. The proposal to broad-gauge Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail line at a cost of Rs 310 crore was announced in the last budget but work is yet to start. Besides, there was an announcement to construct a rail line between Jogindernagar and Mandi, though work on some new rail line projects is going on but it will take years to complete.
Source – Times Of India
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