Uttarakhand to have rail link from Rishikesh to Karanprayag

Dehra Dun : People of Uttarakhand, where the Indian Railways just touches the foot hills ofthe Himalayas, may like the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, soon get the privilege of traveling by train, atleast on the Rishikesh Karanprayag stretch, with the Railways having sanctioned a sum of Rs 8000 crores for laying a railway line to link the two places in the next five years.

It may be recalled that the railway lines just touch the foothills of the Himalays in the nascent Uttarakhand state. Dehra Dun and Kotdwara are the two stations that feed the Garhwal division of the state, while in the Kumaon divisions the last station is Kathgodam, which caters to the Nainital region. Though there have been numerous demands in the past many years for improving connectivity in the hilly tracts of the state, but the tracks did not move an inch from where the British had left them.

Sources in the Railways here said that it had not only been decided to lay a railway line between Rishikesh and Karanprayag, but a sum of Rs 800 crores had also been sanctioned for the proposed 128 kms
railway track. Incidentally, Rishikesh is the sacred township where the waters of the Ganga finish their meandering torrents in the hills and begin the more slow places journey in the plains. Karanprayag
is the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Pindar rivers. However, it is at Devprayag that the Bhagirathi and Bhilangana meet to form the Ganga and is located downstream of Karanprayag.

“The proposed railway line has been handed over to the engineering wing of the Railways, RVNL, (Railway Vikas Nigam Ltd) and is likely to be completed in five years after the initial survey is undertaken of the region. The 128 kms stretch is likely to have 81 tunnels and 12 railway stations have been proposed on the railway line but the main stay is going to be a bridge which will be at a height of 65 metres from the river bed”, they claimed.

Asserting that the Uttarakhand government had been asked to start the process of aquiring the required land for thetrack, sources said that the forest and environment department had also been approached at the centre for giving the required clearances for felling some trees that fall in the proposed line along which the railway track will be laid.

Asked whether there was any opposition by environmentalists for laying the proposed railway track as it could be hazardous for the fragile ecology of the young Himalayan range, they said that as of now there was no opposition to the project, but one could not rule it out once work started on the ground level. “But we are hopeful that taking into consideration the benefits that the people stand to gain once the railway line is laid, there may not be any opposition which could stall the project”, they contended.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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