New Delhi, Dec 30 : Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday reviewed the progress of the ongoing Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) national project in Jammu and Kashmir and said the "aspirations" of the people have to be fulfilled by completing the project so that the region remains connected to other parts of the country round the year.
Besides Goyal, Railway Board Chairman and CEO V.K. Yadav, Northern Railway General Manager Ashutosh Gangal and Chief Administrative Officer of USBRL project Vijay Sharma were also present during the meeting.
Sharma apprised Goyal about the latest status of work on the last leg of the project between Katra-Banihal.
Expressing satisfaction on the progress of the project, Goyal said, "Aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have to be fulfilled by completing the project so that the region gets a good transportation system to remain connected to the rest of the country all the year round." The Minister called upon the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on mission mode.
He also instructed them to complete the procurement of materials and permission procedures on time so that there is no delay in the construction of the line.
Gangal shared with the Minister that in spite of Ramban and Reasi districts, where the project is under-construction, being declared as Covid Red and Orange zones, the work on the projects continued following the Covid-19 standard operating procedures.
"Artisan camps and isolation centers have been provided on sites. And 366 people working on the various points had been detected with the virus, but all have recovered well," Gangal said.
The USBRL is a national project undertaken by the Railways for the construction of the broad-gauge railway line through the Himalayas with the aim of connecting the Kashmir region with the rest of the country.
The all-weather, comfortable, convenient and cost effective mass transportation system will be the catalyst for the overall development of the northernmost alpine region of the country.
Construction of the first three phases of the project has been completed and the line is in operational use for running of trains between Baramulla-Banihal in the Kashmir valley and the Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in Jammu region.
Work on the intervening 111 Km section Katra-Banihal, the most arduous and treacherous portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system replete with deep gorges is ongoing.
There are several iconic bridges and tunnels coming up in this section. Most of the rail track is slated to be in tunnels or bridges in this section. In the absence of an effective surface transport system in this in-hospitable region, Railways had to first lay 205 km access roads to reach the construction sites.
Three agencies -- IRCON, KRCL and Northern Railway -- with extensive experience in construction of rail lines are involved in this project.
Railway Ministry officials said many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation. Several sets of tunnelling machineries and cranes have also been imported.
Presently 95 per cent of the arch work of the Chenab Bridge, world's tallest railway bridge is complete while the work on the Anji bridge, an asymmetric cable stayed bridge, is on in full swing.
Railway ministry officials said that 81.21 km of the total 97.64 km main tunnelling and 53.50 km out of 60.5 km escape tunnel works have been completed. And 12 mega and 10 minor bridges have been completed.
"Laying of the remaining 12 mega bridges and one more minor bridge is to be completed by 2021-22," the official said.