Tribune News Service
Mandi, June 22
After the China-India Army face-off in the Galwan valley of Ladakh, the Central Government has accelerated the land acquisition process and the alignment survey on the proposed Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Kullu Manali-Leh railway line.
The need for this strategically important project has been felt more in the past few years, as China had expanded its railway and road infrastructure near the Indian border.
The Railways authorities had asked the Mandi district administration to seek permission to engage workforce for a survey and land acquisition for the project.
Sources told The Tribune that the 498-km Bilaspur–Leh rail project had been expedited and the final location survey to be undertaken at a cost of Rs 345 crore would be completed by October.
The Bilaspur–Leh line is a proposed high-elevation all-weather broad gauge railway track that would connect Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh. It would either link to the Indian railways network via an extension of the Kangra valley railway (which would be converted to broad gauge) to Mandi or via the railway line to Bilaspur from Kalka.
Mandi Deputy Commissioner Rugved Thakur said a few days ago, the Railways authorities had informed the district administration that they were going to resume surveying for the project.
Mandi MP Ramswaroop Sharma said the survey and the land acquisition process for the ambitious project had been started in Bilapsur and Mandi districts. In Bilaspur, the land acquisition process and the survey were in the final stage, while in Mandi district too, it had been accelerated.
The MP said, “We are already much delayed in expanding our railway network up to Leh, near the China border, as the neighbouring country has already done so in its territory close to the Indian border”.
The Bilaspur–Leh line would be the highest railway track in the world, overtaking the current record of the Qinghai–Tibet railway line.
Once this railway line is completed, Leh will be directly connected to Himachal Pradesh and the rest of India. This would increase tourism in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh and facilitate quicker movement of troops and equipment. This is one of the four important railway connections along the China border, identified by the Defence Ministry.
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