Patti-Makhu rail link hanging fire for 7 years
TARN TARAN Seven years after the rail budget of 2013 gave the green signal to the Rs 1,000 crore, 25km Patti-Makhu link to connect the Majha and Malwa regions of the state, the project has been hanging fire for want of clarity on land acquisition among the Centre and the state. Each wanted the other to buy land. The railways had cleared about ₹300 crore for the project during 2017-18. In March 2019, the state government had sanctioned ₹40 crore for land acquisition.
Farmers stand to benefit from the link as they could send vegetable and fruit to markets in Mumbai and Gujarat much faster. The distance between Amritsar and Mumbai will reduce by 240km, as the project will also link Punjab with the trade capitals of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The project will also reduce distance between Amritsar and Ferozepur from the present 118km to 86km.
Around 165 acre land will be acquired for the project — 70 acre by Tarn Taran administration, and 95 acre by Ferozepur administration — between Gharyala railway station on the Amritsar-Khemkaran line at Patti in Tarn Taran and Mallanwala railway station on the Ferozepur-Jalandhar line in Makhu.
The project had got a lease of life in February this year with the Punjab government announcing that it would start the process of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for acquiring land, but the lockdown due to covid-19 stalled the plan.
In the most recent development, the administration, on Tuesday, will write a letter to experts to begin the process of SIA. “The SIA was to be conducted by a team of experts from a particular university, but it could not be started due to the lockdown,” said Rajesh Sharma, Patti SDM, who is also the competent authority for land acquisition.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP from Amritsar Shwait Malik said, “The project is being delayed deliberately. The state government had sanctioned Rs 40 crore for land acquisition, but has failed to release the funds.”