Railway dream of nation, work underway to complete project: Vaishnaw

>>>Union Minister of Railways visits Jammu Railway Station


Jammu, Sep 13: It is the dream of the nation to see the rail connectivity between Kashmir and the rest of the country, Union Railway minister AshwiniVaishnaw on Monday said, asserting that the work on the prestigious project was going on at a fast pace and would be completed soon.
The minister was in Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, where he attended a public outreach programme and laid the foundation for the construction of two new railway platforms and additional facilities.
Talking to reporters at the Katra railway station, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a very big vision for the railways all the railway stations across the country are neat and clean, people get better facilities and the train chugs on time.
Asked about the timeframe for completion of the Jammu-Baramulla rail link, Vaishnaw said this is the dream of the nation and the work on this project is going on at a fast pace for its completion.
"The work on various bridges and other linking area was going on at a fast pace so that the rail will start plying on the (Jammu-Baramulla) track soon," he said, adding that he "will return in one-and-a-half months' time to review the progress on the work".
The work on the Rs 21,653 crore Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project, which is the most challenging railway infrastructure project being undertaken post-independence, was started in 1997 and has missed several deadlines amid huge cost escalations.
Out of the total 272 km USBRL project, the 161 km was commissioned in phases with the first phase of the 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section commissioned in October 2009, followed by 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and 25-km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014.
The under-construction 111-km Katra-Banihal section has 37 bridges (26 major and 11 minor), 35 tunnels with a length of 164 km (main 27 with 97.64 km and eight escape tunnels with 66.40 km), a railway official said.
This project is the longest railway tunnel having an overall length of 12.75 km, the highest railway bridge in the world which is higher than the iconic Eiffel tower of Paris. It is the first cable-stayed bridge which when completed, according to railway officials, would be an engineering marvel of the 21st century.
The Union minister said the government was working to provide world-class facilities to the commuters travelling by trains and appealed to people to consider the railway properties as their own.
"The railway is a national asset and my appeal to the people was to safeguard the railway property as their own and also not indulge in disruption of rail traffic. It is our property and this is our railway," he said.
As part of Union Government's public outreach programme for Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Minister for Railways and Communications, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw today visited the Reasi district.
The Union Minister inspected exhibition stalls installed by various departments showcasing their activities, schemes and hand-made products of Self-Help Groups (SHG) supported under Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM). ShriVaishnaw also interacted with the members of the women SHG that got featured among 75 Atmanirbhar-Bharat enterprises list released by the department of Rural Development.
In his address, Union Minister Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the Government is committed to providing all the basic facilities at the doorsteps of the common masses and all possible efforts are being made to ensure that no one is deprived of getting their basic rights. Stressing on the need for qualitative governance, the minister remarked that real achievement lies in bringing a smile on the face of the aggrieved. He advised all the officers to work with an objective to ameliorate the conditions of the poor so that a qualitative improvement in their lives can be visible.
The Minister added that the Government has launched several schemes and programmes for the welfare of the general public to improve their socio-economic status and the people must avail the benefits of the same. He reiterated the commitment of Prime Minister in realising 'Sab kaSath, Sab kaVikas, Sab kaVishwas and Sab kaPrayas'. He said that community participation is required for the successful implementation of the schemes launched by the Government. "The Central Government's initiative of public outreach in UT of J&K has been rolled out with the objective of bridging the gap between government and public and to ascertain the needs of the masses so that the same may be fulfilled in a better and effective manner", the Minister said.
On the occasion, the Minister interacted with representatives of the area. An early redressal after detailed study and discussions with all the stakeholders was assured in connection with the requests raised by the locals about extending the routes of all the trains up to Katra Railway station. While taking note of the depletion of the water resources due to railway projects, the Minister informed that the WAPCOS team will visit Reasi in the coming weeks for a detailed scientific study and necessary measures shall be taken accordingly. Regarding local employment in the Railways, the Minister assured that possibilities would be explored for maximum employment of the local youth in the Railways.
For ensuring Universal Internet Access, all possible steps are being taken and scientific studies are being carried out for optimal utilization of the existing telecom infrastructure. He hailed the initiatives like Digital India, Swachh Bharat Mission launched by the PM and the grit and determination with which India is fighting COVID19. He said that the Digital India campaign proved a boon for the students during the pandemic enforced lockdown.
During his visit to Katra Railway Station, the minister laid the foundation stone for two new railway platforms, a washing line and other related works. ShriAmit Sharma, Secretary IT Department, J&K briefed the Minister about various IT interventions being carried out in the UT and Reasi in particular. He informed the minister that the e-office project has been fully implemented at the Civil Secretariat level and the same is being replicated at the Divisional and District levels. Ensuring its success the system requires a reliable and robust internet connectivity which the IT department is committed to provide.
Earlier, during the interaction, District Development Commissioner, ReasiShriCharandeep Singh gave a brief overview of the developmental activities in the district. There has been a paradigm shift in the pace of developmental activities in the district since past few years, he added. Briefing about the changing Socio-economic dynamics of the district, he said that from being predominantly a subsistence agriculture economy people are now being motivated to adopt diversified agricultural practices like cultivation of Ultra-high density horticultural crops and other cash crops like lemongrass, turmeric etc.
Special Covers by the Department of Posts on Martand Sun Temple and Kashmir Willow were also released by the Union Minister. Moreover, beneficiaries under various government sponsored schemes were provided financial assistance. Keys of Scooties for specially abled students were handed over to the beneficiaries by the Minister. Para-archer Rakesh Kumar who represented India in the recently concluded Tokyo Paralympics was also felicitated by the Union Minister.
DDC Chairman Reasi, Saraf Singh Nag; Vice-chairperson DDC Reasi, Mtr Sajra Qadir; among other officials, DDC members, BDC chairpersons; elected PRI representatives among others were present on the occasion.
Union Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw visited Jammu Railway Station and a Community Service Centre, CSC, in Janipur, Jammu and took stock of the facilities being provided to the public. His visit is part of the public outreach initiative of the Union Government for Jammu & Kashmir.
At CSC, officers from Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) briefed the Union minister about the functioning of the department and its role in facilitating people with respect to government's facilities like Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, e-Shram and other e-governance facilities.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw stated that it is the government's mission to reach 'every last person in line'. He shed light on PradhanMantriGramin Digital SakshartaAbhiyaan under which rural population is being given computer and internet literacy.
Sharing the Prime Minister's dream of Digital India, Shri Vaishnaw said that the government has achieved a number of landmarks for its fulfillment over the past seven years. He said that systematic surveys are being undertaken to link the remotest regions of the country through mobile and internet connectivity. 'Universal internet access' is the goal set by the Prime Minister, he said.
Regarding Jammu-Poonch railway link, the minister assured that work on the same has been expedited and would be completed after addressing viability issues of the area. The Railways minister assured that rail link with Kashmir would be open to the public before 2024.
Earlier, the Minister also inspected Jammu Railway Station and studied the upgradation plan for Jammu and Kathua railway stations. He assured that appropriate steps would be taken to facilitate pilgrims and tourists reaching Jammu and beyond through railways. He was accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Jammu, AnshulGarg and senior officers from Indian Railways.

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