Railways halts survey to finalise the Talwandi Sabo rail route
Uncertainty prevails over the future of the much-hyped project of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal to provide rail link to Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, the fifth temporal seat of the Sikhs, after the railways halted the survey to finalise the rail route.
The survey had been at its fag end since the officials had already completed the survey on 28 km, out of the total 34-km rail route from Maur Mandi to Rama Mandi via Talwandi Sabo. However, the decision to suspend the survey came after a protest by villagers of several villages, who are demanding a change in the proposed route.
It was one of the dream projects of the SAD-BJP government and the Bathinda MP had included it as one of the main items in the manifesto during the 2014 parliamentary elections. Even, the SAD promised to complete the project at earliest during the Talwandi Sabo byelection.
Moreover, it is the only Takht which is without railway connectivity, while other four Takhts, including Sri Harmandar Sahib, Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Sri Patna Sahib and Sri Hazur Sahib, are connected with the railway network.
"We have stopped the survey following objections from nearby villagers. We were doing survey only after Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal approached us to do so," a senior official said, who wished not to be named.
An official added that "We will write to the state government about the current status and start only after the government removed the objection of local villagers."
Sub-divisional magistrate Vineet Kumar said though they were aware of the survey being stopped by the railways, but they are yet to get any official communiqué from the department concerned.
"We have sent a memorandum regarding the demands of the villagers to senior railway officials and sought suggestions over it, but the railway department has not replied us yet. We will send a reminder to them and seek reasons behind halting the survey," he said.
Residents of villages including Bangi, Jajjal, Laleana, Talwandi Sabo town, Guru Sar Jaga, Fatehgarh Nau Abad, Jaga Ram Tirath, Bhagwanpura, Tingar, Kamalu and Kotli Sadda Singh Wala had met Talwandi Sabo MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu recently and he had assured them to take up the matter with Bathinda MP, so that the issue could have been discussed with railway authorities.
The project was announced during the UPA government in 2013 but even after the change of guard, the project failed to take off.
"I have asked railway officials to prepare representations, which will be presented before Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur, so that the issues of the villagers could be addressed," said Talwandi Sabo MLA.