Train to nowhere
If you are planning to take the train to Udhampur you better travel light. The Northern Railway Station in Udhampur has only one coolie. Ashutosh Sapru reports.See videoindia Updated: Nov 24, 2008 23:45 IST
If you are planning to take the train to Udhampur you better travel light. The Northern Railway Station in Udhampur has only one coolie. "He is Coolie no1," said auto driver Pappu Kumar cheekily, adding: "Most of the time you will not find him."
The station is small and has four functional broad gauge lines. Surrounded by lush green hills, it is about 58 kilometres from Jammu station, and about three kilometers away from Udhampur city.
The railway station, which was delayed by 15 years, is a story wrapped in the region's politics.
Its foundation stone was laid in 1983 by then Prime Minister India Gandhi, but it could be built only recently by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"This track should go to Katra. This will benefit yatris (travellers) going to Vashnodevi. But Jammu people don't want this line to go to Katra as it will mean losing a lot of business," said Vikram Singh of Lok Vikas Dal, a local NGO.
Farmers who gave up their land to make way for the station, with the promise of land and alternative employment, are still waiting for their part of the deal to come through.
"The business class from Jammu is trying to create this problem, they do not want their business to suffer," said Balwant Singh, the local Panthers Party election candidate.
The train could also transform lives for people in the region once it is connected to the Valley,
There are three trains that stop at this station, two from Delhi -- Sampark Kranti and Jammu mail -- and a local train which goes up to Jammu in the morning and is back in the evening.
The station has made life easier for a lot of people. Upender Miya, 42, is an employee of the Public Works Department who earlier travelled by bus. Now he saves money and time.
But for many the dream that the train brought to the region is yet to be fulfilled.
"I have never been to anywhere beyond Udhampur in my life," said 17-year-old Gulzar Singh, as he browsed the Internet at a Udhampur cyber café.