Train becomes reality for J&K villagers
The first trial coach of the train to Kashmir has finally reached Budgam, reports Rashid Ahmad.india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 21:20 IST
After trucking through Pirpanjal mountain-road continuously for 10 days, the first trial coach of the train to Kashmir finally reached Budgam on Thursday evening.
Pulled by a trailer-truck, as the coach steered through this tiny town, the residents hurried out of their houses to watch what they had been longing-for for decades.
60-year Abdul Kabir Wani stood up from his shop in appreciation and waved at Joginder Singh, driver of the trailer-truck, with a smiling face. Feeling himself as a man walking into the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir rail project, Joginder Singh was a happy and proud person.
Hailing from Bihar's Fazipora district, Singh said, "I have done Railways proud by carrying a most invaluable gift to Kashmiris." Singh, an employee of ABC India Limited, a company having the contract of transporting the railway coaches to the valley, is helped by 25 other specially trained employees of the company in his job.
They have started off their journey from Jammu on October 31. “We are proud to be the first to reach valley with the train coach”, said Darshan Singh, a helper of the driver Joginder Singh.
Wani has retired as Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) two years back and has set up a shop in the town. “I have never gone out of the valley throughout my life. I have seen the train only in films or on TV. This is for the first time that I see a train-coach”, he told the Hindustan Times.
He is happy that the train has finally reached the valley and hoped that it would better the economic position of the valley people.
There are hundreds of other villagers including women and young boys and girls, who saw the train for the first time, and share the views of Wani. But the residents have a common grudge against state administration and railway authorities.
“We were not compensated suitably for the land we have surrendered for the laying of the railway track and construction of railway yard”, they said.
The railway authorities have acquired 1200 canals of paddy and horticulture land for the village. The residents say that they were paid a meager amount of Rs 2.5 lakh per canal as against Rs 8-10 lakh (per canal) paid at other places.
“I had only seven canals of land. All of it was taken over by the railway authorities. I am left with no land now”, said Wani.
“We were also promised employment for one person from each family”, he added, “but this word was also not kept”. But they keep their fingers crossed that a direct link to the outside world could burgeon them to a prosperous future.
The transportation of the trial coach is a part of massive rail project between Jammu-Udhampur-Baramullah, aimed at connecting the mountain-locked valley of Kashmir with national railway network.
The projected costs Rs 4,700 crore and is manned by IRCON. The central government had given the green signal for construction of 287-km long railway line between Jammu and Baramullah in 1982, and the central government had declared it a National Rail Project.
However, the terrain being mountainous and edgy, it took over 20 years to construct the railway line between Jammu and Udhampur. The train between Jammu and Udhampur is operational now.
The work on the railway project between Udhapur-Katra-Qazigund is at full swing and is likely to be completed by 2008. It includes the construction of world’s highest rail bridge on Chinab abd Ajni Khad rivers and country’s longest tunnel of 11.429 km in Pirpanjal.
The railway track between Kakapora in Pulwama and Budgam is almost complete and the railway authorities say that they would be able to run the train between Awanitipora and Budgam by February next year.