Describing infrastructure development in Uttarakhand as one of the Centre’s focus areas because of its capacity to generate employment, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said the annual rail budget for the state will be increased to Rs 500 crore next year.
“When Modi government took over, the annual rail budget for Uttarakhand was a just a little over Rs 100 crore. Now it is over Rs 300 crore and in 2017 it will be increased to Rs 500 crore,” he said after laying the foundation stone and inaugurating a number of rail projects worth over Rs 531.16 crore here.
“Infrastructure development is the need of the hour as it generates employment which will brighten the future of the new generation,” he told a gathering after the programme in this remote hill town of Chamoli district.
Prabhu also spoke of the Centre’s plans to link the famous Himalayan shrines of Uttarakhand with the country’s railway network and bring them on to the world tourism map.
He said work on the much awaited Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail line will also start soon provided it gets forest clearance.
The 125 KM Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail line is an ambitious project hanging fire for several years.
Noting that creating a robust rail infrastructure in Uttarakhand was one of the priorities of Narendra Modi government, he said a plan to bring the famous chardham (the Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri) on the country’s railway network and the world’s tourism map is also under consideration.
“Once that happens the state stands to benefit from it immensely,” he said.
The Railway Minister also laid the foundation stones and inaugurated projects worth over Rs 531.16 crore including improved passenger facilities at Kathgodam, Haldwani, Rudrapur and Lalkuan railway stations, electrification of Haridwar- Dehradun rail line, double gauging of Haridwar-Luksar rail line, construction of eight limited height subways between Haridwar and Luksar besides two lifts and two escalators at Dehradun railway station and four lifts and six escalators at Haridwar railway station.
Pauri Garhwal MP Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Haridwar MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union Minister of State for Textiles Ajay Tamta and Pradesh BJP president Ajay Bhatt were also present on the occasion.