In a bid to extend railway connectivity and bring Kashmir closer to the rest of the country day by day, the Central government is working hard on the completion of such a national project on time. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project is progressing “very well” and the works are taking place in “top gear” at all fronts, PTI quoted a senior railway official as saying. He added that 90 percent of the project’s sanctioned amount, Rs 37,012.26 crore, is utilised so far.
The official said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw are personally monitoring this prestigious national project.
Project worth 37,012.26 crore
According to USBRL Chief Administrative Officer S P Mahi: “The latest sanctioned cost of the USBRL project is Rs 37,012.26 crore. Cumulative booking of expenditure till February 23 is Rs 3,34,21 crore which is 90.29 percent of the total sanctioned cost.”
The USBRL project involves 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 km), the longest tunnel (T-49) having a length of 12.77 km and was completed on February 15 last year.
Out of the total 272 km USBRL project, 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section commissioned in October 2009 under the first phase followed by 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and 25-km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014, while the work on 111-km Katra-Banihal stretch is going on, reported PTI.
Declared as a ‘National Project’
The 272 km-long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link was declared as a “National Project” in 2002 that signifies the importance of the project in providing
seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir.
The Railway ministry gave its nod for the construction of the railway line from Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar in phases: 25-km Udhampur to Katra in 1994, 118 km Qazigund to Baramulla and 129 km Katra to Qazigund in 1999.
‘Work in top gear’
Mahi said the works are progressing in top gear at all fronts. He said the Katra-Banihal section majorly involves tunneling 163.82 km. At present 163.08 km of tunnel mining — 97.02 km (24 numbers) out of 97.42 km (27 numbers) of main tunnel and 66.06 km (7 Nos.) out of 66.4 km (8 Nos.) have been finished. Tunnel lining of 149.23 km – 93.17 km (20 Nos.) out of 97.42 km (27 nos) of the main tunnel and 56.06 km (2 Nos) out of 66.4 Km (8 Nos) have been completed.
Chenab bridge: Work completed
The official said that 22 major bridges and 11 minor bridges have been completed so far and work is in full throttle. As per the report, bridges include the iconic Chenab bridge (overall length 1315 m, arch span of 467 m and height of 359 m above river bed) which is the highest railway bridge in the world. The work on Chenab bridge is completed, track linking and some ancillary works are in progress.
According to him, the construction work on Indian railway’s first cable-stayed bridge is in full swing on Anji Khad. The launch of the super structure of Anji bridge is in an advanced stage of progress and 39 segments out of 47 launched.
Katra-Banihal project on fast track
As per the report, work is in progress on Katra-Banihal as all tenders which include integrated sub-stations, power supply arrangement, tunnel ventilation, tunnel lighting, fire fighting and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) have been awarded.
The official said that the electrification work has been sanctioned for the Katra-Banihal section. The Banihal-Baramulla section witnessed the completion of electrification work in September last year.
Notably, around 205-km access road has also been completed, he added.