HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Himachal again gets raw deal

Gaurav Bisht and Naresh Thakur, Hindustan Times  Shimla/Dharamsala, July 09, 2014
First Published: 11:20 IST(9/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:35 IST(9/7/2014)

Himachal Pradesh has once again got a raw deal in the railway budget presented by railway minister Sadanand Gowda in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Except for conducting surveys to extend the rail line from Una to Hamirpur and Hoshirapur to Amb, there has been no major announcements for the state.

The railways in the state progressed merely 42-kilometre after the independence even though the British government had laid the Shimla-Kalka rail line in 1898 and it had plans to further extend it till Rampur.

The state houses United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated world heritage sites -the 96-km Kalka-Shimla and 164km Jogindernagar-Pathankot railway lines.

The work on the Kalka-Shimla line began in 1898 and was inaugurated in 1903, while the Pathankot-Jogindernagar line was planned in 1926 and commissioned in 1929.

Several successive rail budgets in the past have just mentioned about the surveys and nothing concrete came out of it.

The much-desired Bhanuppali-Bilaspur rail line has not moved an inch from the files. Similarly the proposed rail route to Talwara is still hanging in the balance.

There has no progress of rail track from Shimla and Jogindernagar. Further, the industrial zones of state, linking Yamunanagar to Paonta Sahib, Kalka to Baddi-Barotiwala and Nalagarh is still at the preliminary stages. The state has a tremendous potential for rail growth, considering the large influx of domestic and foreign tourists. The Bharatiya Janata Party has been repeatedly asking for extending the rail line from Bilaspur to Manali and further to Leh to connect the areas bordering China.

Another important rail link Nangal Talwara connecting Himachal to other states has not been completed even after more than 50 years.

This year railway budget has no provision for railway track which is under construction to extend it beyond Amb Andora in Una district.

Survey work for the 84-km Nangal-Una-Talwara rail line was started on October 29,1956 and its foundation stone was laid on December 22,1974 by then railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra at Amb.

Besides providing rail connectivity to people of the hill state, the track will provide an alternative route to the Jalandhar-Pathankot-Jammu section for the armed forces.

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