A Delhi Metro-type rail network in Kashmir? This may no longer be a dream for people living in the Valley. The state government has proposed that the Union Railway Ministry run trains within Kashmir similar to the Delhi Metro.
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s proposal to the new Rail Minister Mamata Banerjee came in the wake of anticipated 15-year delay in the ambitious project of the Centre to connect the Kashmir valley with the rest of country.
The delay is due to defective alignment at many places on the Katra-Qazigund section.
The Railways is now considering the proposal that envisages connecting all major towns of Kashmir like Shopian, Baramulla, Kupwara and Anantnag by trains.
“As Katra-Qazigund section is going to be delayed, we have asked the railway ministry to construct north-south and east-west corridors in Kashmir on the pattern of Delhi metro,” Omar told Hindustan Times.
“This will make travel within Kashmir faster, easier and cheaper. It will also ease traffic congestion and contribute to environmental protection.”
The chief minister has also asked the railway ministry to continue the construction of Banihal-Qazigund section.
Once completed, the line would cut the travel time from Banihal to Qazigund by about 2-3 hours. At present, the journey on the 39-km stretch between Banihal and Qazigund takes 3-4 hour on a bus.
Omar also wants the line to be extended from Baramulla to Kupwara in the initial stage and eventually to the remaining towns in the Valley.
“This is currently at the drawing board stage. We want the railway ministry to complete the project in few years from now,” he said.
Omar has demanded an inquiry into the circumstances that led to defective alignment. “About Rs 350 crore have gone down the drain. We want to know who is responsible for it,” he said. The train service on the 119-km Qazigund-Baramulla line has become a hit with the people of Kashmir. According to railway ministry officials, not a single passenger has been caught without a ticket since the train services began in October 11 2008.