The railways has claimed that the Punjab government’s ‘reluctance’ to acquire land has delayed railway projects meant not only for the state but also for Himachal Pradesh.
Laying of rail lines from Chandigarh to Baddi and from Amb Andaura (Himachal Pradesh) to Talwara (Punjab) are among the delayed projects.
During a visit to the railway station here on Monday, divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala, Dinesh Kumar said Punjab needed to acquire small patches of land for the Chandigarh-Baddi and Amb Andaura-Talwara projects.
“But the state government has been non-cooperative in this regard,” the DRM said.
He added that the Amb Andaura-Talwara project was important for Punjab as it would bring rail connectivity with Mukerian and further till Pathankot.
When asked about Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s demand for the Rajpura-Chandigarh rail route, the DRM said at a time when sanctioned projects were being delayed, the railways was considering whether to hold a feasibility survey on this route.
“The railways is willing to carry out development projects, but the state government must adhere to terms and conditions, including those pertaining to land acquisition, which falls under the government’s jurisdiction,” the DRM said.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Dr Gandhi said he had recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the Rajpura-Chandigarh rail route.
“The PM’s office directed the railways to look into the matter, but the Punjab government is not at all supportive about ensuring land acquisition for the project, which has delayed the feasibility survey,” he said.
The MP added that he had asked the railways to conduct the survey so that on its basis, pressure could be built on the state government to do the needful.
Plan to close down unmanned crossings
Taking a serious note of increasing number of mishaps at unmanned railway crossings, the northern railway (Ambala division) has come up with a proposal to close down such crossings for the sake of public safety.
Divisional railway manager (DRM) Dinesh Kumar said they had identified 96 unmanned level railway crossings on the Bathinda-Rajpura and Ludhiana-Hisar rail routes.
“The limited height subway has been proposed on 41 railway-level crossings, while 27 crossings will be closed down and merged with main manned crossings. The remaining 28 such crossings would be manned by gatemen,” the DRM said.
He added that the services of at least eight gatemen had been terminated due to their negligence at manned crossings.
The other proposals include setting up of ticket vending machines at railways stations; increasing the frequency of the weekly special train from Bathinda to Varanasi to seven days a week; changing the timings of the Bathinda-New Delhi Shatabdi with the aim of increasing its occupancy; and running a special train from Hisar to Chandigarh on Haryana’s demand.
Govt denies rlys’ claims
Additional chief secretary (revenue), Punjab, Karan Avtar Singh could not be contacted for comment, while administrative secretary (revenue) Samir Kumar denied the railways’ claims.
“The Punjab government has nothing to do with the Chandigarh-Baddi rail project, while we have no information on whether any patch of land for these projects falls in Punjab,” Kumar added.