Railway projects of “national importance” in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast that have been pending for over a decade will be completed by 2023, Railway Board chairman V K Yadav said on Friday.
At a press briefing, Yadav said the priority of the railways in the next five years is to complete its 50 remaining super critical projects, augmenting capacity in order to introduce 1,500 new trains and wrap up its projects of national importance. Top on the list is the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) which was declared a “national project” in 2002 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government.
Yadav said a 161-km section of the project has been commissioned at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore, while the remaining will be commissioned by 2022. The project was scheduled to be completed by 2020 earlier. The total cost of this project is estimated to be Rs 27,949 crore. He said that all these projects have been delayed due to land acquisition issues, litigation as well as difficult terrain.
Another project of national importance, the 51.38-km Bhairabi-Sairang project in Mizoram, was sanctioned in 2008-2009, but is yet to be completed. The new deadline for the project is 2023 and a cost of Rs 5,021 crore has been proposed for it. The railway budget 2020-21 has proposed an outlay of Rs 400 crore for the new broad gauge railway line for the year.
The railways has also set a deadline of March 2023 for the BG line connectivity from Dimapur (Dhansiri)-Zubza (Kohima) (82.50 km) in Nagaland, which was sanctioned in 2006-07. The railway budget 2020-21 has earmarked Rs 300 crore for this project. The total cost of the project is Rs 4,600 crore.
In Sikkim, the Sivok-Rangpo new BG line (44.39 km) which was sanctioned in 2008-2009 but suffered due to delay in handing over of encumbrance free forest land by the West Bengal government is now scheduled to be completed by 2023. This project has been allocated Rs 607 crore in the 2020-21 union budget.
Another long-pending project in Manipur connects Jiribam to Imphal (110.62 km), which was sanctioned in 2003-2004. It now has a deadline of 2022. The project has been given a layout of Rs 800 crore in the 2020-21 railway budget while its total cost is estimated to be around Rs 12,524 crore.
Yadav also said that seven of the 58 super critical projects that are underway in congested routes have been completed in 2019, while one has been wrapped up in 2018. He said that the remaining 50 will be completed by March 2022. The completion of these projects would herald greater economic growth for the regions and increase their geopolitical importance.