Kicking off the final location survey of the 498-km long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday laid the foundation stone for the survey of the strategically vital rail project at Leh in Ladakh. Coming up at a high of 3,300 metres, the rail line is touted to be one of the highest railway tracks in the world.
In order to connect Leh with a broad-gauge railway line with the rest of the country, the Railways has taken up the final location survey, a precursor to actual construction from Bilaspur to Leh through Manali. The work has been entrusted to RITES, a Railways PSU, and is planned to be completed by March 2019 with an approximate cost of Rs 157 crore. The all-weather Leh rail network is one of the four important railway connectivities identified by the defence ministry along the China border.
Speaking on the occasion, Prabhu stated that this rail development project receives special emphasis from the NDA government as it would provide logistics support and thus serve the country’s strategic interests while also providing safer, reliable all-weather connectivity for Leh.
The road connectivity to the area gets cut off from other parts of country due to heavy snowfall, thus necessitating all-weather rail connectivity both for strategic as well as socio-economic needs. The project would also spell a multiplier effect on the socio-economic development of Leh boosting opportunities for the lead tourism sector here.
The proposed new rail line will connect all important locations between Bilaspur and Leh namely Sunder Nagar Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu.