Updated: July 18, 2016 1:16:36 pm
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday informed Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu that the state government had no funds to contribute towards the over 25-km long Ferozepur-Patti rail link project.
Prabhu was on in Amritsar to to inaugurate the 1 MW solar power plant at Amritsar Railway Station.
Recently, newly nominated BJP Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik had alleged in Parliament that a powerful transport lobby was behind the hurdles in the Ferozepur-Patti link for the last 20 years.
While the project was announced in the 2013 Rail Budget by the then Union government, the Punjab government had failed to release the required grant.
“We have no funds for this project. Kindly help us with contribution from your pocket,” said Badal to Prabhu from the dais.
“We will acquire land for project. But we have no money to pay the state’s share, which is half the total cost. It is very difficult for us to meet our basic needs. Kindly make investment from your account. We will pay if we would have money in future,” Badal added.
The CM also thanked Prabhu for sanctioning the Rama Mandi-Talwandi Sabo rail link project in Bathinda district.
Railways minister, however, insisted that the state give its share as soon as possible.
“The Ferozepur-Patti railways link is very important. I hope land will be acquired soon and that the state will pay its share,” said the union minister.
Rajya Sabha member Shwet Malik was also present during the function.
Later, talking to The Indian Express, Malik said, “There will be no shortage of funds. I have spoken to the Railway minister. Prabhu has already ordered his officials to commence the project with central funding. He has told officials to not wait for the state’s share.”
Malik said that talks will soon commence to upgrade Amritsar Railway Station to make it world class.
The Ferozepur-Patti rail link is vital from a commercial point of view. It would reduce the distance between the northern states, including Punjab, capitals of Gujarat and Maharashtra, besides reducing distance between Ferozepur and Amritsar. It will also inter-connect the Malwa and the Majha regions of Punjab. It will shorten the distance between Jammu and Mumbai by 267 km.
“The above rail link would inter-connect Srinagar, Anantnag, Udhampur, Jammu, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Batala, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Patti, Ferozepur, Guruharsahai, Jalalabad, Fazilka and Abohar to Mumbai via Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan), which would ultimately promote the overall development of the entire backward border belt of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan,” said Malik.
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