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Government gives go-ahead to 4 strategic rail lines along China border

Rly Ministry told to begin detailed survey.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Updated: October 22, 2014 10:33 am
Army jawans patrol the India China border. Army jawans patrol the India China border.

The government has kick-started the process of building four top-priority strategic railway lines along the China border — a project that had been stuck in deliberations for years for want of a political decision at the highest level.

Last week, at a high-level meeting with officials from the Planning Commission, Defence, Railways and Finance ministries, the PMO finally asked the Railways to carry out detailed engineering survey of the 1,000-odd kilometres of lines identified by the Defence Ministry as strategically crucial. They are in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, and J&K.

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The Railways has been given time till next month to come up with a cost of the detailed survey, which will be borne by the government (Defence/Finance). Sources said the cost of the engineering survey could be around Rs 200 crore.

The identified lines are Missamari-Tawang (378 km) in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh; North Lakhimpur-Along-Silapathar (248 km) in Assam, Murkongselek-Pasighat-Tezu-Parashuram Kund-Rupai (256 km) in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh; and Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh (498 km) in Himachal Pradesh-Jammu and Kashmir. The detailed engineering survey, kind of detailed project report, is the blueprint based on which work is commissioned.

The Railways has informed the PMO that the topography and the geology is such that most of the lines are in the fault and folds of the Himalayan range, which involves stupendous engineering challenges. This means boring railway tunnels through geologically treacherous terrain.

“We had quite a few geological surprises holding up the numerous tunnel works in the Kashmir line many years ago. From that experience, we are sure that these lines will also throw up such surprises. So the detailed engineering survey has to be thorough,” said a Railway Board source.

The survey will take around two years to complete but sources in the Railways said given the priority attached to it, they might be asked to expedite as well. But a detailed engineering exercise like this cannot be needlessly rushed as well, officials said.

These four lines are part of the 14 strategically important lines of the armed forces to be used presumably for supplies for the Army and troops movement in times of need.

The list was drawn up by the Services based on inputs from the operational commands and validated from an operational and logistics perspective. All these years, the government had been indecisive about who would fund the lines. Railways had been telling the government that it would make the lines but cannot fund it because of financial difficulties and also citing the fact that the lines were not part of its operational needs. The matter had been stuck at that.

Soon after coming to power, the new government has been holding meetings at the Cabinet Secretariat level to arrive at the decision on this. The lines are part of the government programme of building permanent transport infrastructure along the international borders for strategic purposes.

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    AMIT PADHYE
    Jan 2, 2016 at 7:55 am
    My sincere request to Modiji...Please give funds for Road and Rail projects for only Jand K and North east India for remaining 3 years....This will make sure that these reigons will be closed to India and all Indians can travel there easily... By the way I am from Maharashtra...
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    1. R
      RP
      Nov 24, 2015 at 2:35 pm
      One of the most important rail link is in Punjab i.e. Ferozpur -Patti( In Amritsar district). The distance is only 25 Kms. but it can change the entire course of History as it is the only missing link of railway section missing. With its construction, Baramulla-Jammu Tawi will be linked with Mumbai-Ahmedabad via shortest route. The entire line runs parallel to international Border solving logistics problem to a large extent. Amritsar will have direct rail connectivity to Ahmedabad bringing economic prosperity for both states.
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      1. S
        Shriharan
        Oct 22, 2014 at 8:02 pm
        Nation woke up long ago its the leadership that was sleeping.
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        1. S
          Shriharan
          Oct 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm
          Why not build both? Govt has already sanctioned major road construction in those areas.
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          1. S
            suryakant
            Oct 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm
            government should give priority to build rail lines & they should be completed within 4 year of span
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