Ferozepur: The railway authorities today blamed the state government for the inordinate delay in providing land and grant for the construction of the 25.47-km-long Ferozepur-Patti rail link. The link will shorten the distance between northern states and that between Punjab and the trade capitals of Gujrat and Maharastra, to a great extent.
Speaking to mediapersons here today, AK Puthiya, General Manager, Northern Railway, said he had taken up the matter with the Chief Secretary (Punjab) to expedite the process of acquiring land for this vital project. However, nothing tangible had be done so far, he added.
A few weeks ago, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik had also demanded that the work to revive the rail link be started immediately. Malik had accused the “high-profile” transport lobby of trying to jeopardise this project due to their own vested interests. Former state BJP chief Kamal Sharma had also taken up the matter with Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Kumar Sinha.
The rail link, if constructed, will reduce the distance between Ferozepur and Amritsar from 118 km to 86 km and that between Amritsar and Mumbai by 240 km, between Jammu and Mumbai by 267 km, besides connecting the Malwa and Majha regions.
As per information, this link (Ferozepur-Amritsar) was snapped at the time of Partition, when the Punjab province was divided, following which a small portion of Ganda Singh Wala (now in Kasur) up to Khem Karan fell into the share of Pakistan, for which an alternative portion (Ferozepur-Patti) needed to be built. Former Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had given the “green signal” to this project in the Rail Budget-2013.
Anuj Prakash, DRM, Ferozepur Division, said as the Internal Rate of Return was negative for this project and it would benefit lakhs of people in the state, the ministry had asked the state to provide 50 per cent of the funds. Sources said the “cash-strapped” state government was reluctant to foot the bill for the project on which an amount of Rs 300 crore is likely to be incurred.
Social worker Ranjan Sharma said, “This rail link is extremely vital for joining the two strategically located border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar, besides connecting these to Rajasthan, Maharastra and Gujarat to boost their economy.” “It will be a boon for farmers who would be able to send vegetables and fruits to the markets in Mumbai and other areas within two or three days,” he added.