Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday set August 15, 2022 as the deadline for completion of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) that would connect Kashmir with the rest of the country.
The Prime Minister chaired the 34th Pragati interaction with the union secretaries of various ministries and chief secretaries of states and union territories through video-conference, in which Chief Secretary, J&K, B V R Subrahmanyam and Financial Secretary Health and Medical education department Atal Dulloo participated from here, an official spokesperson said.
Modi reviewed 11 projects related to seven ministries including the prestigious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link being constructed in Jammu & Kashmir, the spokesperson said.
While reviewing the progress of the USBRL project, the PM was informed that all the issues have been resolved and works are progressing smoothly.
Underscoring the potential of the project to exponentially boost Kashmir''s tourism and economy, the Prime Minister fixed the deadline for completion of the project as August 15, 2022, the spokesperson said.
The 272 km railway line is being undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 28,000 crore by the Northern Railway.
The first section connecting Udhampur to Katra and the third section between Banihal and Baramulla have been completed with both sections operational. The work to complete the most difficult 111-km long Katra-Banihal section is going as per schedule, railway officials said.
The Udhampur-Katra (25 km) section, Banihal-Qazigund (18 km) section and Qazigund-Baramulla (118 km) section have already been commissioned.
The last remaining section, the 111 km Katra-Banihal section is currently under execution, the spokesperson said adding that 126 km out of 174 km of tunnels on this section has already been completed.
The USBRL project is highly essential to provide an alternative and reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir and join the Kashmir valley with the Indian Railways network, the officials said.
The officials said that in view of the importance of this project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir, the USBRL was declared a national project in 2002.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also reviewed the progress of the ongoing USBRL National Project on Wednesday, the construction for which is on its last legs between Katra and Banihal.
The meeting was held over video conferencing and Goyal expressed satisfaction over the progress of the USBRL saying the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have to be fulfilled by completing the project so that the region gets a good transportation system to remain connected with the rest of the country all the year round.
He called upon the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on mission mode. He also instructed them to complete the procurement of materials and permission procedures on time so that there is no delay in the construction of the line.
The general manager of Northern Railway, Ashutosh Gangal shared with the Minister that in spite of Ramban and Reasi districts where the project is under-construction being declared as Covid Red and Orange zones, the work on the projects continued following the Covid-19 SOPs.
Artisans camps and isolation centres have been provided on sites. As many as 366 people working on various points had been detected with the virus, but all have recovered well.
The USBRL is a national project undertaken by the Indian Railways for construction of broad-gauge railway line through the Himalayas with the aim of connecting the Kashmir region with rest of the country. The all-weather, comfortable, convenient and cost effective mass transportation system will be the catalyst for the overall development of the northern most alpine region of the country.
Construction of the first three phases of the project has been completed and the line is in operational use for running of trains between Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir valley and Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in Jammu region.
Work on the intervening 111 km section Katra-Banihal, the most arduous and treacherous portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system replete with deep gorges is ongoing. Most of the rail track is slated to be in tunnels or bridges in this section.
In the absence of an effective surface transport system in this in-hospitable region, the Railways had to first lay access roads to the tune of 205 km to reach the construction sites.
Three agencies -- IRCON, KRCL and Northern Railway are involved in this project. Many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation.Presently 95 per cent of the arch work of the Chenab Bridge, the world’s tallest railway bridge, is complete while the work on the Anji bridge, an asymmetric cable stayed bridge, is on in full swing. Of the total 97.64 km main tunnelling, 81.21 km and 53.50 km out of 60.5 km escape tunnel works have been completed. Also, 12 mega and 10 minor bridges have been completed. Laying of the remaining 12 mega bridges and one more minor bridge is to be completed by 2021-22.