Rajouri- Poonch rail link

To connect Pir Panchal region of Jammu province with rest of the country through rail link, an approval was given late last year by Railway Minister Piyush Goel for Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch rail link involving a cost of Rs. 2370 crore. This part of the State is replete with a particular type of ups and downs of history immediately after the country getting freedom. A brief description would suffice the requirements of bringing home the point. Before independence, Poonch was a principality of local Dogra Rajas well connected with the rest of the country having motor-able roads. It was linked with Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan via Poonch Aliabad-Haji Pir Pass-Uri Muzaffarabad and Srinagar via Uri and Baramulla. A Tanga route from Poonch to Sudnuti and Lachman Pattan bridge on river Jehlum too existed.Poonch city was a a trade centre having a wholesale market where the traders of Punjab and Kashmir assembled for trade and commerce.. Goods like ghee, sheep skin, wool, honey, wild mushroom, blankets, pattu, rajmash, maize were exported from here while tea leaves, ghur, cloth, salt etc like goods were imported.
In 1947, Pakistani raiders attacked the area and Poonch was cut off from all the historic routes and links and nearly for one year, Poonch remained delinked from land routes and besieged by tyrant raiders which was got lifted by the valiant Indian forces during October- November 1948 but there was no road link available now which made once prosperous Poonch plunge into economic backwardness rendering more than 40 per cent of its population slip down the poverty line. It naturally called for fighting it out with ensuring connectivity both external and internal and to address the same on priority. It is in that perspective too that the rail connectivity is assuming much importance although road connectivity was bestowed upon the entire area progressively down 1948 on a continuous basis.
For long , the demand of the public of Poonch and Rajouri for a railway link was fulfilled on December 23, 2018 by the Central Government when Railway Minister formally accorded the sanction for it making the day a memorable happiest day for the people of these border districts . ‘Excelsior’ has already carried both a news item as well as views through these columns late last year about the sanctioning of the railway link between Jammu and Rajouri -Poonch and resultant full connectivity bestowing upon the area, prospects of a better economic development coupled with making passenger travel easy , comparatively cheap and comfortable and giving impetus to transportation of goods and merchandise to and fro the area concerned. The fact of the matter is that while UPA Government at the Centre played hide and seek in the matter confining to agreeing to the project but beyond giving it the name of a “national project ” and the formality of some preliminary surveys, nothing concrete was done . Even the present dispensation, perhaps, would have not been pointedly enthusiastic towards the said rail link, had there been not a strong resentment among the public of the Jammu province in general and Poonch -Rajouri in particular, when Baramulla- Kupwara Rail link was declared on November 30, 2018 but not the one under reference which was done only a month later to assuage the hurt feelings of the people of the area.
Lot many problems faced by the people of the area in the absence of the rail connectivity were ingrained in two ways , viz it being under the radar of Pakistani forces from across the border to harass the public and heap hostilities on them , while on the other hand trade and commercial activities were equivalent to naught resulting in avenues of employment being negligible but with the availability of the rail link , both skilled and unskilled workers would be greatly benefitted , the economy of the area would grow fast which means added assured prosperity and progress of the people.