Himachal pins hope on railway budget

KUMARHARTTI: The debate has already begun in state over Railway Budget to be announced on February 26. After having failed to get anything from budget years after years the state is now expecting some favour in this year budget. Despite successive state governments efforts to find some concrete in budget the state has so far remained at bottom in list of gainers in budget.

Since Independence the state has managed to get only 36-km railway line linking Nangal with Una up to Takrala village. The couple of important railway projects planned to facilitate the economic growth of state are waiting nod from Central Railway Ministry. The major of them, Banupalli- Bilaspur- Rampur and Baddi- Chandigarh rail links can uplift economic fortunes of state in big way but apathy of railway ministry over these projects is proving a virtual disaster for state.

The two major narrow gauge rail tracks of Kalka- Shimla and Jogindernagar- Pathankot are now no more remained a joy ride. The much dependence on age old ZDM 3 engines has made the journey on these tracks a nightmare for passengers. The break downing of outdated ZDM 3 engines in mid way is now common feature on these two tracks.

A very senior leader of state political party points out, the nonchalance of centre towards state is out of imagining. The centre has given step motherly treatment to state so far. The state leaderships vigorous campaigning has too failed to find some positive outcome, he asserts.  Ironically the state CM is very keen over Banupalli- Bilaspur- Rampur rail project but yet the project is hanging fire from long time.

The industrial fraternity in Baddi- Barotiwala – Nalagarh (BBN) and Parwanoo has too no clue about dilly-dally approach of center towards railway growth in state. The issue of linking Baddi with Chandigarh has highlighted at different platforms but of no avail. In the past few years, Baddi has emerged as a major industrial corridor of North India. Housing some big industries, Baddi has the potential to generate healthy freight income for Railways in case it linked directly with Chandigarh, feel office bearers of BBN industries Associations and HP Council of CII.

Says a very senior official of railways posted on Kalka-Shimla track, it is the high time for Railway Ministry to replace the old ZDM 3 engines on narrow gauge rail tracks. On an average daily an engine gets snag on these tracks and affects the traffic badly, he remarks.

The state has already two cement plants at Barmana and Dalra, points another railways official. The two more cement plants are expected to be set up in state besides setting up of big industries including hydro power projects, he remarks. The rail is a vital infrastructure to run these heavy industries smoothly, he says. The rail network to these big industries will not only provide easy mean of transport but helps to reduce pollution caused by the plying of numerous trucks in state, the official maintains.

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