JAMMU: Rail line doubling project of Jammu – Pathankot – Jalandhar track from Madhopur in Punjab to Kathua in Jammu Division, work on which commenced nearly 16 years back, is in recurring hiccups due to which it is feared that instead of the deadline fixed for 2018, it could struggle and labour to reach the end of 2020 . It has been found mired in roughhousing conditions mostly unavoidable, as we have reliably gathered, instead of entirely due to human factor of usually a casual approach. On the other hand, its importance can be visualised on account of tremendous spurt in rail traffic over the years on this line due to introduction of and running full, more and more passenger trains in addition to goods ferrying ones.
It may be recalled that doubling of 211 km long single Railway line between Jalandhar and Jammu Tawi was sanctioned in 1997-98 at a cost of Rs.408 crore and the work on it was started in the year 2002. This 211 km long section has in it 26 Railway Stations in between , 406 minor bridges and 88 major bridges including bridges across river Beas , Chakki, Ravi, Ujh and Basantar. It is notable that work on 184 kms of line in various block sections was completed without disturbing the existing train running schedules and was commissioned between 2005-06 to 2011-12 but legal hurdles and shortage of funds put brakes on the accomplishment of remaining job on doubling area particularly the main bridges under reference . Cost escalation too played a bit of spoilsports in the matter.
The question arises as to had not it been visualised at the time of the preparation of the project report as to which of the difficulties, not easy to be surmounted, were likely to be faced in respect of construction of the two bridges known by Nos 17 and 18 on River Ravi so that measures to overcome those difficulties could have been taken even by outsourcing expert advice . The 825 meter long Ravi bridge is having 17 spans of 45.7 meter and span of 18.3 m of steel girders while the two bridges being adjoining to each other. Carrying of construction works for the rail line bridge in gushing waters of River Ravi is not easy which even is felt in technical circles not to speak of in common parlance. Only professionals with extreme dexterity and knowledge on the subject can throw enough light on it but the fact remains that this aspect has probably not received added attention whilst drawing technical feasibility report in respect of this prestigious project.
Erecting pillars in flowing waters was not an easy task and on this count extreme difficulties were encountered but the fact that these pillars were cardinally central to the safety measures which no one could compromise with meant taking more precautions and more care but not without expending more time. In fact, just keeping the deadline the only objective in mind would unimaginably jeopardize non negotiable safety norms .
However, kudos still must go to the engineering staff and the constructing agency as well, that sub structure work of the ridge was nearing completion and likely to be completed by March 2019 paving way for starting of the work on super structure which was causing certain ripples of anxiety, as we have reliably learnt, due to which it was expected to be completed not before June 2020. Let us hope that the new deadline would be fairly met but keeping safety and security measures as top priorities in the remaining crucial construction work of this most important Rail line doubling project.