From Our Correspondent
IN the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, a large number of developmental schemes costing crores of rupees to the poor Indian exchequer continue to hang fire for decades together due to mismanagement, political and other considerations.
These include several central projects of great national, strategic and economic importance as also those for the welfare of the people.
One is the 53.2-km-long railway line between Jammu-Udhampur which is facing monumental delay due to political hypocrisy.
The foundation stone of this railway track to link the capital city of Jammu with the nothern command headquarter of Udhampur was laid as far back as on April 14, 1983 by the then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi, just two months before the Assembly Elections in this state. She had announced with great fanfare that this project would be completed within the next five years.
As limited funds were provided, the project could not progress. At the time of the 1987 Assembly elections, Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi had regretted the delay in the execution of the Jammu-Udhampur railway track and promised to complete it before the next elections.
Because of the delay in execution of the railway line project in Jammu and Kashmir the expenditure on laying down the track has escalated from Rs 55 crore to about Rs 500 crore now.
Government apathy in the completion of this track could be well imagined from the fact that since 1983 to 1996, the funds provided were just Rs 98 crore against the requirement of over Rs 400 crore. It was with the change of guards at the Centre that the issue was repeatedly raised within and outside Parliament by some members and soon the funds began to flow liberally.
But it was highly intriguing that in January this year, the then Railway Minister, Shri Nitish Kumar had announced the date for commissioning of this railway track on March 25. But this could not mature because of the Lok Sabha polls. In the meantime, trial runs were conducted on this line but so far the running of trains for public use has not begun although the delay has already led to a stupendous escalation in the cost of execution, causing immense loss to the exchequer because early running of trains would have facilitated transport of army personnel and other goods as also that of passengers. But the work has come to a standstill with the abduction and killing of Shri Sudhir, an engineer and his brother about three months ago.
After the Partition of the country in 1947, this state had lost the only rail-link it had in the region with Sialkot, which came under the dominion of Pakistan.
It was only in 1972 that the present Jammu-Pathankot rail-link was established. Since then the extension of railway service in the state is much awaited.