Uncertainty looms large over the much-needed “crucial” Ferozepur-Amritsar rail link, which has the potential to shorten the distance between the northern states, including Punjab, to trade capitals of Gujarat and Maharastra to large extent.
When constructed, it will also reduce the distance between two border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar from the present 118 km to 86 km. The distance between Amritsar and Mumbai will be cut down by over 200 km. However, the project has been hanging fire due to red-tape for the last several years.
The rail link between Majha and Malwa was earlier snapped at the time of Partition when the province of Punjab was divided and some part of Ganda Singh Wala (now in Kasur) fell into the share of Pakistan for which now an alternative broad-gauge link between Ferozepur and Patti needs to be constructed.
Though the link was given “green signal” in the rail budget during 2013 and subsequently the go-ahead by the ministry and ratification by Niti Aayog, the matter is still hanging in the balance.
Last month, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had also written to the Railway Ministry to expedite the process for the construction of this broad-gauge link between Gharyala on the Amritsar-Khemkaran line and Mallanwala on the Ferozepur-Jalandhar line as it will give a major fillip to trade and industry in the border region.
Earlier also, the matter had been taken up by Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik and dozens of representations had been sent to the Railways, but nothing tangible has come out yet.
Railway officials had maintained that since the Internal Rate of Return (IPP) was negative for the project, the ministry had asked the state to provide 50 per cent of the funds besides the land for the project. However, the “cash- strapped” state government was reluctant to foot the bill for the project, which also included two bridges across the Sutlej and Beas, on which an amount of Rs 300 crore was likely to be incurred.
Social worker Ranjan Sharma said, “This rail link is extremely vital to join the two strategically located border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar, besides connecting them to Rajasthan, Maharastra and Gujarat to boost their economy.” “It will be a boon for the farmers who will be able to send vegetables and fruits to the markets in Mumbai and other areas within 2-3 days,” he added.
Kulbhushan Gautam, president, Bharat Vikas Parishad, said the project would not only benefit the people from Punjab, but also a number of other states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and those of south India.
When contacted, Vivek Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ferozepur Division, said the process for acquiring land for the project had been initiated by the state government. “Once the land is provided, we will immediately start work on the line, for which funds are no constraint,” he added.
Will reduce Amritsar-Mumbai route by 200 km
- When constructed, it will reduce the distance between two border districts of Ferozepur and Amritsar from the present 118 km to 86 km.
- The distance between Amritsar and Mumbai will be cut down by over 200 km.