Plan to develop pre-partition Jammu Rly Station as heritage site shelved

Representational Image

Transport Deptt acts as spoilsport, refuses to give land

Preference given to workshop over creation of tourist point

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 23: In a shocking development, the much-hyped plan to convert pre-partition Jammu Railway Station at Bikram Chowk as heritage site has been shelved mainly because of non-cooperation from the Transport Department, which refused to shift the workshop of Jammu and Kashmir Road Transport Corporation to some other location.
The Railway Station was built in 1897 and was on the Jammu-Sialkote Railway Line, which had train services passing through R S Pura, Miran Sahib and Suchetgarh. The Railway Station was abandoned after the partition as the railway line to Sialkote was broken.
On January 29, 2021, the then Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor Baseer Ahmed Khan, who was also looking after the affairs of the Tourism Department, visited the historic Railway Station at Bikram Chowk and directed the officers to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for its recreation.
“The Railway Station has a historical and heritage significance and extraordinary efforts should be made for its recreation on the same lines as it had existed. The Tourism Department should go through the pictures available of the historic Railway Station as it had existed earlier so that it is restored to its pristine glory”, he had stated, adding “recreation of such an asset will become a source of inspiration for the younger generation”. Even the officers were told to involve the Railways for technical support in preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR).
Thereafter, on June 8, 2021, Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langar visited the site of the pre-partition Jammu Railway Station and announced that the Government will develop it as a Heritage Site to attract tourists visiting the City of Temples. As the land belonging to the Railway Department of the erstwhile State was supposedly transferred to the Transport Department in 1954 and presently the yard and workshop of Jammu and Kashmir Road Transport Corporation are located there, it was decided to approach the Transport Department for transfer of land.
“While correspondence with the Transport Department was going on, the Jammu Smart City Limited even got concept note prepared as per which even the workshop of the erstwhile Railways Department was to be converted into museum and other facilities created for the tourists”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
However, the proposal for transfer of land for development of pre-partition Railway Station as heritage site has been rejected twice by the Transport Department as a result of which the much-hyped plan has finally been shelved for unspecified period, sources disclosed, adding “it is really shocking that preference has been given to a workshop and a yard of buses over creation of a tourist point in the city which is being developed as smart one”.
“The Transport Department should have made request to the Government for allotment of appropriate land at some other place for relocation of workshop and yard instead of insisting on continuing the same at present place”, sources said, adding “as different landmarks and remnants are still available at the pre-partition Railway Station having historical and heritage significance, extraordinary and coordinated efforts should have been made by all the concerned agencies for restoring its past grandeur”.
“Conversion of old Railway Station into heritage site is also important especially in the light of the fact that adjoining area is being developed on the patter of Sabarmati River Front”, they further said, adding “continuance of Road Transport Corporation workshop and yard in the area being developed as tourist attraction point is not justified at all”.
Moreover, no headway has been made on the announcement regarding start of tramway, mini train or joyride from Bikram Chowk to R S Pura.