Govt to concurrently build Rail and road tunnels in NE, J&K

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  In a move to push integrated and comprehensive approach for developing transport network, government wants its agencies to “pool” resources for constructing rail and road tunnels concurrently wherever such alignments are collinear.

Sources said this would be the approach for three strategic railway projects in Northeast, which have been identified as “top priority” projects. Another key railway project falls in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

There is also a proposal to synchronize road and rail projects and share studies by both the departments in Uttarakhand. A detailed project report (DPR) is under preparation for nearly 180 km stretch between Rishikesh and Karnprayag in the hill state by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL).

The first four strategic projects would cost government around Rs 2 lakh crore and the railway ministry is likely to take a proposal to the Cabinet for fund allocation for preparing DPRs. This decision was taken recently at a meeting chaired by Cabinet secretary, sources said.

Three out of these four projects fall in Northeast and would cover areas, which have not yet been connected with railways. The fourth project only the Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh stretch would connect Himachal Pradesh and J&K. “Barring this stretch, road alignments are being considered in northeast which are similar to the proposed railway lines. So, it’s felt that both roan and rail tunnels can be built simultaneously rather than going for separate projects,” an official said.

In the case of proposed rail project in Uttarakhand, sources said that RVNL has appointed an Italian firm for DPR of a new rail line between Rishikesh and Karnprayag. After considering several alignment options, one option has been finalized for which geological studies have been done and geophysical studies are likely to start soon. Almost 70% of this alignment would pass through tunnels.

The Narendra Modi government has already made it clear to push infrastructure projects in Northeastern states and other untouched regions to accelerate development. Improving connectivity to chardham is also another priority area for the new government.