Kashmir on Railway canvas by 2023

Just a few years back, the mere idea of rail and Kashmir valley would appear to be something of an imagination of interest looking to the mountainous terrain, ravines, gorges, slippery rocks and shooting stones and the like all in the route from Jammu rail link to Kashmir but the modern engineering, technology and the requisite skill abounding in the country made it possible in a skeleton form in the valley to run services between different areas. There are various projects underway to connect Kashmir with rest of the country and in this connection, the biggest ever railway project that of the arch of the world’s highest railway bridge having been completed two months back is all heralding the proficiency of Indian engineering marvel as the bridge is at a height of 359 metres above the bed of Chenab River and to ensure rail reaches those points thought to be impossible. There is one more prestigious project that of 272 kms long Udhampur -Baramulla Railway Line project that would connect Udhampur in Jammu with Baramulla town making the travel one of not only the unique ones passing through picturesque surroundings and through all zigzags and turns but an experience in itself besides bidding adieu to any sort of discomforts which otherwise one could experience while travelling by road.
Union Minister of State for Railways Minister during his two days outreach to people in district Ramban while taking stock of the projects connected with railways currently going on having also acquainted himself with the humps and impediments being faced in prestigious rail project in the region directing that the rail line to Kashmir must be completed in all respects by the year 2023 sounds quite significant. Since the funds problem was not around at least for any project related to railways particularly Udhampur -Baramulla- Srinagar rail line at a cost of nearly Rs.28000 crore, completing the same in time is most likely. Since problems related to land acquisition etc and other requirements having already been completed, it is up to the executing agencies to pick up the speed of work so as to complete the project by 2023. The strategic stretch between Katra and Banihal comprising many tunnels and escape tunnels, nearly a 100 kms tunnel run, needs pointed attention in respect of construction process. This railway line being of the kernel of the entire process of connecting the two farthest ends, therefore, holds its own importance.
Sooner or slightly later than the deadline fixed would in anyway result in the completion of project and Kashmir getting connected with the railway system would result not only in the increase of the footfall of the tourists visiting the UT particularly Kashmir valley and thus give a boost to trade and commerce but overall position of the economy also would improve tremendously providing opportunities for employment as well. However, since Jammu and Kashmir is predominantly a tourist destination and requires a pollution free and eco-friendly projects including railways , care has to be taken that the same was not disturbed in any way. In that the example of Kalka Shimla railways system for decades on going smoothly and the line passing through beautiful landscape has remained completely environmental and eco-friendly because of the strict guidelines being followed to protect the green cover . Since that is in no comparison to the Kashmir railway line project but the approach towards nature and environment is what matters. Since Baramulla-Banihal railway line is already being electrified and other lines too following suit, due care of protecting environment must be assured.