Train to Leh via Kullu-Manali not feasible – Scientists

Dehra Dun : A dream project of the Himachal Pradesh government, one that it has been trying to get through for quite some time now – Bilapur Leh railway line via Kullu and Manali – may run into rough weather with scientists of the IIT Roorkee opining that the project would be more feasible and quicker to make, if the railway line is laid from Bilaspur to Leh via Kishtwar.

Train to Leh

Though the Railways has planned the project on proposals as desired by the Himachal Pradesh government, (Bilaspur-Kullu-Manali and onto Leh), but scientists of IIT Roorkee, who were asked to look into the feasibility and other technical aspects of the project have differed on the route that along which the railway line should be laid.

However, it is now for the Railways to take final decision on the matter.

Prof Kamal Jain of IIT Roorkee was of the view that the railway line if laid along the present alignment would not only create technical problems but the costs would also escalate very high, to the extent of making it non-feasible.

“Taking the railway tracks along the heights as visioned along the Kullu-Manali stretch and then on to Leh, would put it far away from meeting the target of completing the line on schedule and also cost wise” Jain felt.

Though the Railways in principle has given the nod to the Bilaspur-Leh line, but they too were skeptical of the present alignment and route of the track, which was why they had asked for the help of scientists at IIT Roorkee.

A team of the civil engineering wing of the institute under Prof Kamal Jain was asked to look unto the proposed route along which the track would be laid.

The team undertook several studies of the topography of the terrain and the prevailing geological conditions and reached the conclusion that the railway line could be laid along the proposed route, but the Railways would have to use advanced technology to complete the track, specially as the conditions prevailing in the Himalayas range are far different from those in the Shiwalik ranges.

“Most of the region in the Himalayan ranges is under snow for quite long periods of time, which is not so in the case of the Shiwalik ranges, and as such the first priority of the Railways while laying down the railway line would be to strike a coordination between the two, which is why it is being felt that taking the track via Kishtwar would be a better and more practical proposal”, the team opined.

It may be recalled that the Himachal Pradesh government has been pressing for the completion of the line with the plea that as China was making fast development along the border, it was necessary to have the railway track to facilitate the movement of men and material to the borders.

It wants that the line passes through Kullu and Manali as this would open up the vast potential of the region and give an impetus to the economy.

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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