Shimla: Given the strategic importance of the proposed Bilaspur â€“ Leh railway line, the difficult terrain in which it has to be constructed and the expenses involved, it may be declared a national project, said R Velu, minister of state for railways stated here on Sunday.
Speaking to the media after dedicating the Kalka-Shimla track as a UNESCO heritage railway site, the minister said that a final location survey of the Bhanupali-Bilaspur rail track was being done before land acquisition for it could be initiated. Construction on the track estimated to cost about Rs 1050 crore would start only after the land acquisition is completed, he added.
â€œMoney for survey of extending the track from Bilaspur to Leh through Kullu-Manali had been approved, which could take more than a year, he said.
â€œGiven the difficult logistics involved in executing a rail project in such terrain, the budget involved and its strategic importance for the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may declare it a national project,â€ said Velu.
The minister disclosed that land acquisition for the Chandigarh-Baddi rail track was going on and construction work on Rs 700 crore project after that. Work on a sanctioned Baddi inland container depot would also be taken up simultaneously.
The minister said that with sanction of the Chandigarh Baddi rail connectivity project, the proposal to provide a broad gauge connecting point to Parwanoo had been dropped. The minister also dismissed any proposal about converting the narrow gauge Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail track into a broad gauge one.
Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal speaking earlier at a function asked for extending the Talwara Jan Shatabdi Express by 17 Km to Una so as to have at least one Shatabdi train connectivity point in the state.