Despite the difficult terrains and geographical challenges, the 125 km long Rishikesh-Karnaprayag new rail line, part of the Char Dham project, is moving ahead in Uttarakhand.
Estimated to cost Rs 16,216 crore, the new rail link would be connecting four major pilgrimages in the hilly state—Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The ambitious hill rail link project criss-crossing Dehradun, Tehri, Pauri, Rudrapryag and Chamoli, aims to provide last-mile connectivity between Rishikesh and Karnaprayag.
According to the Railways, once completed, the new rail line will boost the socio, economic and cultural development in the region.
Taken off with a target of completion in December 2024, the new broad gauge railway line between Rishkesh and Karnaprayag is a very important development project in the state of Uttarakhand.
The objective of the project is to facilitate easy access to pilgrimage centres situated in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, connect new trade centres, development of backward areas and to serve the population living in the area.
It is expected that such a link will result in a considerable reduction in travel time and cost. The Railways maintains that this rail link will provide opportunity for industrial development, cottage industry in the area, boost the economy and tourism prospects in the state.
The proposed railway line will connect important towns like Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Guachar and Karnaprayag through five districts of Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Rudraprayag and Chamoli.
According to the latest status report, the physical progress of the project is about 30 per cent, the financial progress is more than 54 per cent. The revised estimate cost is under preparation now keeping in view of the cost overrun factor into consideration.
The first block section of 5.7 km between the existing Virbhadra station and Yog Nagri Rishikesh station was commissioned in March 2020. One important rail bridge over the river Chandrabhaga at Rishikesh has been completed.
As far as tunnelling is concerned, work involving all 17 tunnels have been awarded. Tunnelling works have been divided into 10 packages, and works on all 10 packages have been awarded.
Tunnelling work of all main tunnels have been started simultaneously. Total tunnelling progress, including the main tunnel and escape tunnel, is 61.98 km against a total scope of 213.35 km.
According to the Railways, there are some issues with the Road Transport and Highways Ministry involving National Highways-58, which is to be diverted at two locations.
Though the money has already been deposited by the Railways, the works have not been completed, which is affecting the progress of the project.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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