A tight security blanket was thrown over Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the state on Friday during which he will inaugurate a rail link to put Katra on the railway map and address a Sainik Samelan in Srinagar.
During his one-day visit, Modi will make his first stop in Jammu from where he will go to Katra to flag off the inaugural train from the newly built Katra Railway station to Udhampur.
The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project marking region’s rail connectivity with the rest of the country. It has been executed at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 1,150 crore.
“It’s an important development and it will ensure hassle free pilgrimage for a common man who travel to pay their obeisance at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine,” state Governor N N Vohra told PTI on the eve of Modi’s visit.
The new link with seven tunnels, 29 minor and nine major bridges is expected to ease the pilgrim rush in Jammu city and help the devotees to directly go to Katra.
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Ahead of the visit, a tight security cover was in place in the town with policemen keeping a vigil at all entry and exit points.
Hotels and lodges were being checked while security personnel combed all nearby hills and took positions at vantage points.
Udhampur-Katra rail route was slated to be commissioned during October last but it got delayed after a portion of a tunnel caved in.
At present there are 27 trains which touch Jammu and Udhampur railway stations. An estimated 85 per cent of pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine use the railway facility.
The Prime Minister will later fly to Srinagar where he will address a ‘Sainik Sammelan’, official sources said. He may touch upon India’s ties with neighbouring Pakistan at this event.
After his lunch with Governor N N Vohra, the Prime Minister will inaugurate the second phase of 240 MW Uri Hydel project which has been built by the state-run National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC). Modi will return to Delhi on Friday evening.
The project, second on river Jhelum in Uri town, is located downstream of 480-MW Uri-I.
Uri-II would help NHPC to increase its hydropower generation capacity to 1,920 MW from five projects in the state. The other four projects are 690-MW Salal, 480-MW Uri-I, 390-MW Dulhasti and 120-MW Sewa-II.