Dehra Dun : Trust all good projects for the welfare of the common man to be caught in the quagmire of politics. Now the proposed 123 kms proposed Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line has become a subject of controversy, with both the Congress and BJP leaders clashing over the laying of its foundation stone.
The ball was set rolling with the state Congress leaders declaring that AICC president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had agreed to lay the foundation stone of the project sometime in November. They said that because of the interest shown by the Congress president in the project and her efforts to push it through, she had been asked to also lay the foundation stone.
However, this was not taken to lightly by the state BJP leaders, specially with the Uttarakhand vidhan sabha elections due in February next year. There is a popular feeling amongst both the state BJP and Congress leaders that the laying of the railway line could go in the way of which ever party leaders lays the foundation stone, as that particular party will get the credit for it.
BJP national vice president, who is also a contender for the post of chief minister of Uttarakhand, should the party retain power said that Sonia Gandhi would have to face the ire of the rank and file of the party in the state if she comes to lay the foundation stone. â€œThe railway minister or the railway minister of state can lay the foundation stone as representatives of the prime minister, other the chief minister of the state will lay the railway lineâ€™, he maintained.
Satpal Maharaj MP picked up cudgels on behalf of the Congress saying that Sonia Gandhi was coming to lay the foundation stone in her capacity as chairperson of the UPA and both the railway minister and minister of state for railways would also grace the occasion. â€œIt must be remembered that it was I who raised the issue of the railway line after being made the minister of state for railways in 1996 and got its survey done and now the BJP wants to take credit for itâ€, he claimed.
It may be recalled that the demand for the railway line was first raised in 1919 by Darban Singh Negi, a resident of Chamoli and a Victoria Cross winner, who asked the then British government to lay the line. Taking heed of the demand the then British government got a survey done of the route along which the track would be laid in 1928 and again in 1935.
The project was given the nod in 2011 and money for it has also been sanctioned by the centre. There will be 81 tunnels along the projected alignment that the track will take and there will be 12 stations on the 123 kms route. The project will be completed in five years.