Railway Budget 2015: Will Uttarakhand’s wait finally end?
Dehradun/ New Delhi:
Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Harish Rawat, met the Union Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu, yesterday, and requested him to include projects which would benefit Uttarakhand in the upcoming railway budget. The state government had sent a proposal regarding these even before.
Rawat said that owing to the high number of tourists visiting the state from India and abroad, connectivity by train became a necessity. Being a special category state, Uttarakhand was unable to pay its share in implementation of railway projects. Projects of strategic importance could not be looked at from the economic point of view, alone.
He added that the Railways were under pressure to connect all beautiful destinations within limited resources, but Uttarakhand was essentially important for tourism, pilgrimage and was situated in a strategically important area. Thus, such a special category state had to be given due importance.
The way the Railway Ministry had set a record in establishing the Konkan Railways and Jammu Kashmir’s Udhampur/ Katra railway line, similar attention had to be paid to Uttarakhand. This was important as the state has a lot of national as well as international tourists visiting and it was very important strategically.
The CM added that the state government had forwarded a lot of proposals regarding railways to the Centre which must be attended to on priority basis. The state government was developing Gairsen as the summer capital of Uttarakhand. The Ramnagar-Chaukuthiya rail route was approved in the railway budget. Gairsen was very close to Chaukuthiya and thus a railway track between Ramnagar and Gairsen was feasible. It would hold great importance.
Similarly, land transfer for the Rishikesh- Karnaprayag rail route was in its last stage. A deadline to finish work on these two important routes had to be set.
The Tanakpur- Bageshwar railway line had got approval as a National Project. This too required immediate implementation. The Kiccha- Khatima railway line (57.7 Km) needed to be developed at a faster pace.
The Union Government needed to intervene in the Deoband- Roorkee rail route project as the formality of land transfer in this case was almost over. There was an urgent requirement to develop the Saharanpur- Vikasnagar-Dehradun rail route.
At present, all trains coming to Dehradun had to come via Roorkee, Laksar and Haridwar, thus a new route was required which would reach Dehradun via Herbertpur.
These routes would not only help locals, but also visitors to the state and control the rush at Haridwar station. Funds had to be allotted for construction of the rail route from Rishikesh to Dalanwala in the 2014-15 budget. Its survey was over and it needed to be implemented at the earliest. There was an announcement for a direct link between Haridwar- Kotdwar- Ramnagar. This was also an important route for the state. It was necessary to consider a train between Ramnagar and New Delhi.
Additional First AC coaches and Chair Car needs to be added to the New Delhi- Dehradun Jan Shatabdi and Delhi- Kathgodam Sampark Kranti and Anand Vihar-Kathgoda Shatabdi trains.
The CM said that owing to smaller number of trains, the dependence on roads was comparatively higher in Uttarakhand and caused much inconvenience to travelers.
There was an immediate need to develop a shuttle service on the Rishikesh-Haridwar-Kathgodam route via Lalkuan, Pantnagar, Rudrapur, Kashipur, Ramnagar and Bajpur.
There was need for an express train from Dehradun and Kathgodam for Lucknow/ Allahabad/ Varanasi.
The trains currently running in the state have old coaches and these needed to be replaced.
The few key rail projects pending with the union government are Ramnagar- Chaukuthiya rail route, Rishikesh – Karnaprayag rail route, Tanakpur- Bageshwar rail route, Deoband- Roorkee, Saharanpur- Vikas Nagar- Dehradun, direct link between Haridwar- Kotdwar- Ramnagar and introduction of several new trains.