Uttarakhand’s Rishikesh – Karanprayag rail line survey complete

Dehradun : As Lok Sabha election approaches, prospects for the proposed 127 kms long Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line in Uttarakhand have brightened, more so as the Railways Development Corporation has completed the final survey of the alignment of the proposed line.

The railway line, which will be the first laying of the track line in Uttarakhand after independence has brought much hope and cheer to the people of this small mountain state, as it will provide a cheaper alternative for not only transport, but movement of goods and produce.

Karanprayag
Karanprayag

What will be interesting of the proposed line is the fact that 80 per cent of it, or nearly 100 of the 127 Kms will pass through tunnels and 11 new railway stations will be constructed to cater to the people. They are New Rishikesh, Shivpuri, Byasi, Deoprayag, Maletha, Shrinagar, Dhari, Rudraprayag, Gholtir, Gauchar and Karanprayag.

The Corporation has asked the chief minister to help in the acquisition of land for the proposed railway line, which is likely to cost Rs 4295 crores. The alignment, for which the IIT Roorkee, also played a key role passes through some of the most beautiful terrain of the Garhwal Himalayas and as such is likely to give a tremendous impetus to tourism in this small mountain state.

As it will be the first railway line that moves inside Uttarakhand, as till now the railway lines just touch the periphery of the state, it is being presumed that the tourists visiting places like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Tunganath and the ski resort of Auli, will benefit from it.

The line will also benefit the economy of the state, as transportation of produce from the hills will be able to reach the various markets of the country quicker at a lesser cost. While the track is being laid it will provide employment potential to the large unemployed work force of Uttarakhand.

However, the fragile nature of the mid-Himalayas could pose a threat to the new railway line as constructing the tunnels that are proposed could be hazardous. At least this is the past experience of the Railways in the mid-Himalayas and is the reason, why no railway line was laind in this region during the British period.

Reports are that it was proposed to have a railway line till the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie and on 18 Nov 1896 the foundation of the Haridwar-Mussoorie railway track was laid and work on it started. But while constructing a tunnel at Jharipani, short of Mussoorie the land started sinking and work had to be stopped.

Thereafter a survey was conducted by the British engineers and scientists, who reached the conclusion that the mid-Himalayan region is more fragile than the upper and lower Himalayan areas and as such making a tunnel in this region is almost impossible because of its fragile condition. Thereafter the project had to be abandoned.

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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