In a significant step towards the expansion of railway network in Himachal Pradesh,the Railway Ministry has sanctioned Rs 350.33 crores as first instalment towards initiation of ground work for the 20-km patch of Bhanupalli-Bilaspur railway line.
In a communication received by the state Government last week,the Ministry of Railways has informed that land acquisition work along the 20 km railway line will begin soon. The railway line,to cover 10 villages in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh and 14 others in Ropar district of Punjab,is expected to boost economic activity in the region and promote tourism,besides reducing vehicle traffic on the roads.
Himachal Pradesh has been alleging discrimination in the matters of railway network expansions and,Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahulwalia seeking help in sanctioning of new railway projects.
The Bhanupalli-Bilaspur railway line project is expected to cost Rs 1,040 crores,to be shared by the Centre and state in the ratio 75:25. The first train on this track is expected to be in place by 2015. Dhumal said he had already discussed the issue with his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal and a meeting of the chief secretaries of the two states had been held to speed-up land acquisition.
Meanwhile,the Centre has already approved,in principle,another strategic project proposed by Dhumal,the Manali-Leh railway line – as a national project. A private company has also shown interest to take-up the project and has started pre-feasibility study.