Congress all out to prevent BJP from hijacking credit for railway line

Dehra Dun : Realising the electoral importance of the proposed Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line in Uttarakhand, whose foundation is to be laid by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi next week at Gairsain, the Congress is ensuring that its credit is not hijacked by the BJP, whose leaders have been claiming that the project has become a reality because of the repeated petitions and reminders by the BJP government in Uttarakhand.

Throwing the gauntlet at former chief minister and BJP incharge of the state elections, Bharat Singh Koshiyari, Congress Lok Sabha member Satpal Maharaj dared the former to get a railway line sanctioned in Kumoan region of Uttarakhand. “If the railway line is to come up because of the petitions and reminders by the BJP than their leaders should get one sanctioned for the Kumaon region of the state also”, he challenged.

Aware that the proposed railway line will play a major role in the vidhan sabha elections due in the state in February next year, Maharaj claimed that he had envisaged the project as union railway minister of state way back in 1996 and had been striving ever since to make it a reality. “The BJP leaders would then mock at me for making efforts for a project, which according to them would never see the light of day”, he pointed out.

He said that besides improving the economy of the region and facilitating the people of Garhwal hills by making travel easier, cheaper and quicker, the railway line would give an impetus to tourism in the state, particularly pilgrimage to the twin dhams of Badrinath and Kedarnath. “Even then it had been decided that four trains would operate on the line during the tourist and pilgrim season and two trains during off season to cater to the local population”, he claimed.

It may be mentioned here that the proposed railway line to cost about Rs 4500 crores is likely to be ready in five years. There will be 19 tunnels on the track, the longest of which will be about 4.5 kms while the others will be about one km long and 128 bridges of which 45 will be major bridges. There will be six level crossings, 18 road over bridges and 20 under bridges, which will make it an engineering marvel.

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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