Himachal raises tunnel and rail issue with Centre

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has demanded that multilateral funding of Rs.500 crore be provided to the state for the construction of motorable tunnels. Road network is the main source of transportation in the state, and tunnels are the only medium to reduce the distance between places.

A demand to this effect was made by the member parliament from Mandi Pratibha Singh who recently met Union finance minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi. During her meeting, Pratibha Singh said that the state government has prepared the DPRs for four tunnels in Shimla town for decongesting traffic from the main roads which experience heavy vehicle rush through out the day.

State government has prepared DPRs for construction of motorable tunnels from Lift to Lakkar Bazar (681.25m), Lift to Himfed petrol pump (1134.92m), Himfed petrol pump to IGMC (890m), and Sanjauli to Dhalli (147.61m).

She said that private parties are not interested to construct these tunnels under public private partnership (PPP) mode because of lack of financial viability. She requested Chidambram to arrange funding to these tunnels from some multilateral funding agency.

She also requested him to arrange funding for tunnels between Chamunda to Holi, Karsehar to Telang and under Jalori Pass to reduce the distance and provide all weather travel facilities to remote and backward areas residents throughout the year.

Pratibha Singh also requested the Union finance ministry to provide funding for upgradation and modernization of Shimla, Kangra and Kullu airports in the state to facilitate the landing of bigger aircraft and also night landing facilities to promote tourism in the state. She requested for providing central funding in the ratio of 90:10 for all centrally sponsored schemes in the state on the pattern of northeastern states due to similar topography, geography and other working conditions.

She demanded to declare the Ghanauli-Baddi-Kalka and Amb-Paonta-Dehradun railway lines as project of national importance and provide hundred per cent central funding for the construction of these railway projects. She also requested that construction work on Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri broad gauge railway line should be expedited as per the cost sharing agreement held on august 2007 in PMO in the central state ratio of 75:25 of fixed cost of Rs.1046 crore and requested that the enhancement of the project cost due to delay by railway should be met by providing additionally by finance ministry and Planning Commission.