Unsavory political controversy looms on Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail project

RNVL implementing 125.09 km long rail project in Garhwal region with a preliminary cost of Rs.4295.3 Crore

Rishikesh (RKSH): Ahead of the general election, the Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail line, a dream project which is expected to bring prosperity in the backward Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, is caught in an unsavory political controversy after developing slowdown syndromes.

Former railway minister and Congress MP from Pauri Satpal Maharaj has accused the state government of not handing over the land to the Railway Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) which he claimed is delaying the project.

RNVL is implementing the 125.09 km long rail project in the Garhwal region with a preliminary cost of Rs.4295.3 Crore, the foundation stone for which was laid three months before the 2012 assembly election in the hill state. The project was one of the key poll planks of the ruling Congress at that time.

“For the past two years, I had been requesting former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and Chief Minister Harish Rawat to handover the land for the construction of Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail line repeatedly, but till now, the land has not been given to the Railway Vikas Nigam,” said Maharaj, a political rival of the Chief Minister amid renewed infighting in the ruling Congress.

Rawat is apparently peeved over the Chief Minister’s decision not to give horticulture portfolio to his wife Amrita, who is a state cabinet minister following an alleged polyhouse scandal which rocked the state recently.

Concerned over the delay in the Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail project, the then Chief Minister Bahuguna in October last had called on Union Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge at New Delhi to expedite the project.

Bahuguna had expressed the hope that the railways would give top priority to the national project. Besides, the Rishikesh-Karanprayag project, Bahguna had also held discussions with the Minister on Bageshwar-Tanakpur rail project which is also hanging fire for the past several decades.

The government has already assured all possible support from the state government for the new project which has the potential to become the lifeline of the backward Garhwal region. The proposed rail project would bring in prosperity in the hilly areas and generate employment opportunities for the people, experts said.

The rail project would pass through Dehradun, Tehri, Pauri and Chamoli districts and main railway stations would be at Rishikesh, Karnprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. There would be total 128 bridges including 45 large and 83 small one, while, total number of tunnels would be 81.