AMRITSAR: The proposed Patti-Makhu rail link to connect Amritsar and Ferozepur has become a victim of politics. Delay in its execution is likely to escalate its cost, which is estimated to be nearly Rs 1,000 crore.
The Ministry of Railways had cleared about Rs 300 crore for this project in 2017-18 fiscal and more funds would be released annually.
Kulwant Singh Ankhi, a retired principal, said since the funds remained unspent, it went back to the sanctioned authority — NITI Ayog.
“The railways will have to seek fresh approval to utilise the funds,” he said. Despite repeated request letters by several NGOs to the state government, nothing positive has come out.
Prof (retd) Mohan Singh of Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) said numerous letters and reminders to the government remained unanswered.
The rail project has immense benefit for the country and the state. To lay the railway line, the state government has to acquire about 25-kilometre long stretch between Makhu and Ferozepur. The rail link has become a popular demand of people of the two border districts — Amritsar and Ferozepur.
Another city resident, Pawandeep Sharma, said it was the duty of the state government to acquire the land as soon as possible to complete the project. “After all, better connectivity is the engine of growth,” he said.
The NITI Aayog had already approved and sanctioned the Railway Ministry’s proposal to lay track from Patti to Makhu. This project was sanctioned by the then Union Railway Minister, Pawan Bansal, during the UPA regime.
Industrialists believe that the rail route holds immense economic and social benefits for the people of Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir.
Apart from shortening the travelling distance between Amritsar and Mumbai by 240 km, it will also serve as the alternative railway route between both stations. It will reduce the rush on Amritsar-Delhi-Mumbai route.