The much awaited Jaisalmer (in the Jodhpur Divison of NWR) to Bhabhar (in the Ahmedabad Division of WR) rail link project has been shelved by the Union railway ministry, said Union minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain said in a letter to the BJP parliamentarian from Barmer.
In the 2016-17 rail budget, the then Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu had sanctioned ₹ 5,000 crore for the project, which was considered as a big economic boost for the limestone industry in the desert region.
In 2012-13, the North Western Railway had conducted three surveys for the 339km-long rail link.
In October 2016, a MoU was signed between the railways, Rajasthan and Gujarat governments for laying a new railway line from Jaisalmer in Jodhpur division of the North West Railway to Kandla Port in Ahmadabad division of the Western Railway in Gujarat.
Barmer MP Sonaram Choudhary raised a question in Parliament in November 2016 about the status of the proposed Jaisalmer-Bhabhar rail link.
On September 27, in his reply to the question, Union minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain said in 2012-13, a survey was conducted for the rail link in which the project was found financially non-viable with 7.74% negative rate of return.
“The railways have a long list of ongoing rail projects and since the project was not found financially viable due to which further consideration for sanctioning the project was not taken,” Gohain said in the letter.
Considering the strategic importance of the project, the view of the defence ministry is vital, the minister said, adding that a proposal has been to the ministry for its consideration.
“Until now the railways have not received any reply from the defence ministry.”
In April, this year, chief minister Vasundhara Raje, too while signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the ₹ 43,129 crore Barmer oil refinery with the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, demanded a rail connectivity between Barmer and Kandla port for transporting fuel and petrochemical products.
Choudhary said it is not possible for the railways scrap the project.
“How can the railways scrap a project that the Prime Minister mentioned as an achievement during his recent visit to Rajasthan,” said Choudhary.
“I will soon meet railway ministry official to know about the status of the project.”