Jammu: In a major embarrassment for the BJP leadership in Jammu and Kashmir, Railway Board has shelved the much-ambitious 223-km-long Jammu-Poonch railway line project by declaring it “financially unviable”.
In response to a series RTI of queries seeking the status and overall details of this prestigious project, the Ministry of Railways disclosed that “the survey for new line Jammu to Poonch was completed in 2017-18. The project could not be taken forward being financially unviable”.
“Presently, there is no proposal under consideration for this line. The survey has been shelved with the approval of Railway Board,” the ministry disclosed while responding to an RTI application filed by Jammu-based activist Raman Sharma.
Shockingly, Member of Parliament (MP) from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat Jugal Kishore was possibly unaware of the development. The MP while speaking on the Motion of Thanks in the Lok Sabha yesterday said that “the survey for laying of Jammu to Rajouri and Poonch railway line has been completed and provision of funds should be made available soon for laying this new railway line”.
In another reply, Firozpur Division of Northern Railway disclosed the latest updated survey report for Reconnaissance Engg. cum traffic Survey for a new line between Jammu-Poonch via Akhnoor and Rajouri was submitted to the Railway Board in September 2017.
According to the survey, the total cost of the project was Rs 22,771.55 crores with rate of return (-) 4.54 percent per annum (with electric traction).
“No further correspondence from the Railway Board has been received till date. As per the 370-page-long updated report, a ten years period has been proposed to complete the project,” said Deputy Chief Engineer (Survey and Construction) Northern Railway, New Delhi.
Pertinently, Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch railway line had been the part of BJP’s election promises during 2014 Lok Sabha and subsequent elections and even the BJP’s star campaigners had promised construction of the rail line.
Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch railway line was important from a strategic point of view as it was to connect the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch which share Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, with train. It was proposed that the train would pass through all major towns of Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts and it would benefit large numbers of populations especially those living in Rajouri and Poonch districts.