State Government would propose construction of Kalka-Baddi-Nalagarh-Bilaspur-Beri broad-gauge railway line instead of already sanctioned Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri broad-gauge railway line. This was revealed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, in a high level meeting of the State held under his Chairmanship, convened to review the status of Railway Projects in the State, here today.

Chief Minister said that the new proposal would be beneficial to the State since majority of industrial expansion had taken place between Kalka and Nalagarh and with the construction of the broad gauge railway line all industrial units established in the area would get facilitated with convenient transportation of raw material and finished products to different marketing terminals all over the country as also reduce the pressure on road transportation in the area. He said that since the work on approved 63 kms. long Bhanupalli-Bilaspur railway line had not been started by the Union Ministry of Railways wherein the State had agreed to share 25 percent project cost while remaining had been agreed by the Government of India to share. He said that Bhanupalli-Bilaspur railway line was not of much benefit to the State as compared to the proposed Kalka-Baddi-Nalagarh-Bilaspur railway line which would cover major industrial belt. He said that since the project cost had escalated from about Rs. 1000 crore to Rs. 3,000 crore and the State was committed to honour its commitment of sharing project cost as decided earlier. He said that the State Government would also pursue the cement industry in the State to share the project cost since it would save them on road transportation costs heavily. He said that it would be more convenient if the railway line was also passed through tunnel below Kiratpur as had been proposed for vehicular traffic and would save on project cost.

Prof. Dhumal said that the State Government had also proposed extension of proposed Bhanupalli-Bilaspur railway line to Leh crossing through Mandi-Manali-Keylong-Leh, which was strategically vital and would save immensely over the expenses being occurred by the Union Ministry of Defence on transportation of man and material to the border areas in Ladakh region. He said that it would also expose the virgin valley to the outside world and tourism sector get boosted up. He said that Union Defence Ministry should also be roped in to share the project cost since it would be of immense benefit to them. He said that the proposed project could be all weather eco-friendly connectivity to the cold desert region of Ladakh. He said that the project was strategically of vital importance since neighbouring country had strengthened its railway, air and road connectivity to the optimum on its borders with India in Ladakh region.

Chief Minister said that on-going railway projects in the State were moving at a snail’s pace and since independence out of proposed 62 kms. Railway line only 44 kms. had been constructed under Nangal-Talwara railway line project and traffic opened upto Amb-Andaura. He said that State had started land acquisition work on next section of Amb-Andaura to Daulatpur (17 Kms.) while survey of the last section Daulatpur to Mandwara (Kartoli) had also been completed. He said that it would be of immense utility if the broad-gauge railway line was extended from Jaijon to connect Una. He said that the State Government had already taken up all above issues with the Government of India at Prime Minister’s, Union Home, Finance and Railway Minister’s level besides Planning Commission of India and would again be reiterating the same with the request to approve all such projects by providing adequate budgetary provisions in the coming Railway Budget of the country.

Chief Secretary Rajwant Sandhu said that since the land acquisition process for Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri railway line had not been started and it would be in the State interest if the same project was started from Kalka instead of Bhanupalli to benefit industrial area of railway services. Dr. Srikant Baldi, Principal Secretary (Finance and Planning), Ajay Tyagi, Principal Secretary (Industries), Dr. S.K. Shad, Advisor, Planning and other senior officers attended the meeting.