The Indian Railways will commence this week the final location survey for providing rail connectivity to the four important Hindu shrines in the hills of Uttarakhand at an estimated cost of over ₹40,000 crore.
The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) has been entrusted with the task of undertaking the survey for rail connectivity to Chardham — Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath — through Dehradun and Karanprayag.
The RVNL had also undertaken a reconnaissance engineering survey in 2014-15 and submitted a report in October 2015. According to the reconnaissance survey, the total route length is 327 km and will cost ₹43,292 crore. The REC survey recommends 21 stations, 61 tunnels totalling into a tunnel length of 279 km and 59 bridges.
As the alignment will pass through the Himalayas, the Railways has to meet construction challenges. The rail heads or the railway stations to the proposed Chardham are Doiwala, Rishikesh and Karanprayag.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu will lay the foundation stone for the final location survey for single broad gauge line in Badrinath on May 13. The four dhams have their varied and distinctive elevation levels along with spiritual significance. Besides pilgrims, many foreign tourists throng the state.
The ambitious project envisages bringing in a new era of safe and comfortable travel, said a senior railway ministry official.
Kedarnath housing the shrine of Lord Shiva, is one of the 12 Jyotilingas at 3,583 metre height, while Badrinath, which has the shrine of Lord Vishnu, is at 3,133 metre height above sea level.
The Indian Railways is also pursuing its ambitious project of constructing a rail line between Rishikesh and Karanprayag and efforts are underway to fast-track the project.
These rail projects shall add momentum to the progress of the State by connecting far-flung areas besides boosting opportunities for tourism and economic development.