Himachal Pradesh railway projects in limbo

The proposed railway projects in state are in limbo thanks to the failure of successive state governments to make it point stronger with center. In fact the state has failed to find any favour in railway budgets over the years. Even in the last budget presented in February this year the only consolation came in the form to get principle nod for Chandigarh-Baddi rail link. Other than that the state has got meager Rs. 25 lakh provision in budget in which Rs. 24-lakh was earmarked for extension of Nangal –Talwara rail line and rest for the 4-km long Kalka-Parwanoo rail link.

There was no mention of Bhanupalli-Bilaspur – Rampur rail link in rail budget. The survey on this project has done long back ago but non-provision of funds has kept project in virtually abandoned condition.

Ironically, the survey on Nangal- Talwara broad gauge rail link was carried out by the then Railway Minister, Mr. Lalit Narain Mishra in 1971. The project was to connect Una and Amb with railway network. The viability and demand of project was enhanced after Amb area in Una district had witnessed influx in industrial activities due to the efforts of state Industries Minister, Mr. Kuldeep Singh who hails from Gagret. There was also plan to set up a coaching terminal at Amb. However the mere provision of Rs. 24 lakh for project was not enough to complete the work, confirmed well placed sources in railways.

Sources disclosed , similarly rather to focus on the Chandigarh- Baddi rail link the Railway Ministry has tried to revive the unviable Kalka-Parwanoo rail link. The Kalka-Parwanoo broad gauge rail link holds no viability in present scenario. The most of industries were now based in and around Baddi. The Parwanoo rail link was planned long back in order to facilitate the timber supply outside the state. The idea was to save the sales tax for state traders who had to pay the same while transporting the material through roads.

The timber outflow from state was reduced drastically after present Virbhadra led Congress government has banned tree feeling in state. Moreover the land acquisition cost for project was too high that made the project unproductive from railway prospective. Interestingly the revised cost of this project was Rs. 27.23 lakh while the provision has made only for Rs. 1 lakh.

Moreover all engines deputed on Kalka –Shimla and Pathankot-Joginder Nagar narrow gauge sections were outdated but yet no initiative has been taken to improve the situation.

During his visit to state in May last year, Railway Minister, Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav had assured to grant more funds for railways. He had also assured to do some positive for opening of closed Jabli railway station in Kalka-Shimla rail section when a delegation of local people met him in this regard at Barog railway station.

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