Work On Hold, Kashmir Rail Delays Again

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SRINAGAR —The Kashmir rail link project is likely to get delayed as the construction of the Chenab bridge has been halted for the last over two months due to dif­ferences between the Railway Authorities and the contractors over arbitration and quality of the painting. The work on the main arch for the bridge over Chenab river on the Katra-Banihal sec­tion has stopped since October 20 due to the row between Rail­way Authorities and the contrac­tors over the work specifications.

The work was stopped over differences between the Konkan Railway, which has taken the responsibility to execute the Kashmir rail link work, and the contractor on the quality of the painting. To prevent rusting, there was a need for paint to be applied to parts of the main arch.

Besides the painting issue, the work has stopped over dif­ferences on arbitration between Konkan Railway and contractors.

The rail line could miss even the 22020 target after the work on the bridge has been grounded.

Chief Administrative Officer of the Kashmir rail link project, Vi­jay Sharma, said that the issues may be sorted out soon.

“There were contractual issues due to which work has stopped. A meeting is scheduled on De­cember 6 and we are hoping to sort it out,” Sharma said.

The main arch in the 1.3-km-long Chenab bridge is a crucial link and it involves the world’s longest cable crane arrange­ment. It is estimated to cost Rs 1,250 crore. The work on Chenab bridge started in July 2017 and is targeted to be completed by 2019-end. Railway Board Mem­ber (Engineering) Vishwesh Choubey, however said that the deadline will be met.

“There are arbitration prob­lems due to which the work has stopped. But we are hopeful of meeting the target,” Choubey said.

About two-thirds of the 326 km Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link remains ready and the portion that needs to be completed is a 111 km stretch be­tween Katra and Banihal.

Banihal is connected to Baram­ulla through Srinagar link while Jammu is linked to Katra through Udhampur line. The Katra-Bani­hal involves construction of 27 bridges including the tallest rail bridge in the world and 37 tun­nels, one of which is the longest in Asia at more than 12 km.

The Katra-Banihal railway track, which is the only missing link between Jammu-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line, would connect Kashmir with rest of India by train. The cost of the Kashmir rail link project was estimated at Rs 2,500 crore when it was approved in March 1995. The project was sched­uled to be completed in 2002, but as the deadline couldn’t be met government of former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Va­jpayee, had in 2002 declared Jammu-Srinagar rail link as a national project and fixed Au­gust 15, 2007 as deadline for its completion.

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