Buoyed by the successful completion of some major infrastructure development projects in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Government of India is keen to start work on two ambitious Metro Rail projects – one each in Srinagar and Jammu.
According to highly placed sources, the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Development (H&UD) has submitted proposals for 27 new Metro rail lines across the country, including two for Srinagar and Jammu, for approval before the Union Cabinet. The Centre is likely to accord sanction to the Metro rail projects after taking into account different criteria including the size of population, traffic load, feasibility and financial viability.
The Union Territory Government has set-up the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation and a year after abrogation of Article 370, an Indian Railways Accounts Service (IRAS) officer, Ankita Kar, was deputed from the Union Ministry of Railways for formulation of the basic project reports. In the Railway Ministry, Kar was functioning as Financial Advisor of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Line (USBRL).
Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) Ltd. was engaged in making separate Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the proposed metro projects in Srinagar and Jammu. Initially there was a proposal to create metro lines in the two capital cities on the pattern of the Delhi Metro, after which it was decided to appoint the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief E. Sreedharan as the project head.
Later, it was concluded that underground tunnelling was not feasible either in Srinagar or in Jammu for a host of technical and financial reasons. It was decided to pursue only the elevated light metro (Metrolite) projects. The DPRs made by RITES were submitted to the Centre with certain additions and alterations by the UT Government. There was a proposal seeking the required funding of over Rs 10,000 crore from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with involvement of the Department of Economic Affairs.
Successful small train test run was conducted on 21 March on world’s highest railway track under construction on Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link on Chenab river in Jammu And Kashmir
Modi hai to Mumkin hai🙏 pic.twitter.com/6o7atG3qKo
— भगवा इन्दु (@BhagwaHindu21) March 27, 2023
According to sources, the Centre is likely to provide funds directly for the two infrastructure development projects which would be a boon for traders, government employees, students, security forces and common civilians and go a long way in boosting the UT’s economy. It was calculated that around 200,000 passengers would travel daily by the Metro in Srinagar by the year 2027. There were identical calculations for Jammu.
The Metro project for Srinagar, proposed to cover a total distance of 25 km by two lines, with 12 stations on each line, needed an investment of Rs 5,734 crore. The service would operate for 17 hours a day in summer and 14 hours a day in winter. In Jammu, there was a proposal of covering the total distance of 23 km with 22 stations (17 km on Line-1 from Ban Talab to Greater Kailash and 6 km on Line-2 from Udheywala to Exhibition Grounds. It required an investment of Rs 4,825 crore. Both the projects were expected to be operationalized in 2024.
Now that the initial deadline of 2022-23 has been missed, authorities have begun fresh efforts to get the two Rapid Transit projects cleared by the Centre at an earliest.
In Srinagar, 12 stations—HMT, Parimpora, Bus Stand, Qamarwari, Gagarzoo, Rathpora, Batmaloo, Civil Secretariat, Lal Chowk, Ram Munshi Bagh, Sonwar and Indira Nagar—were proposed for Line-1 of the Metro covering 12.5 km. With same distance and equal number of stations, Line-2 was proposed from Osmanabad to Hazoori Bagh (Iqbal Park) through Hazratbal Crossing, Soura, SKIMS, Nalbal Bridge, Mill Stop, Hawal Chowk, Jamia Masjid, Khanyar, Nawpora and Ram Munshi Bagh. Passengers would change lines at Ram Munshi Bagh.
It was proposed that three modern lightweight coaches, each made of stainless steel and aluminium, with full air conditioning and heating system, would operate through the two elevated corridors.
Sources told India Narrative that a massive public response to the operationalization of certain Smart City projects, including a riverfront and a handicraft market, coupled with successful G20 conclave in Srinagar was “highly encouraging”. “Now LG Manoj Sinha, with the help of three Union Ministers (Minister of Home Affairs,
Minister of Railways and MoS in the PMO) is assiduously pushing the two Metrolite projects for Srinagar and Jammu. “We are hopeful of a major breakthrough in the next couple of months”, said a senior bureaucratic source. According to him, Srinagar and Jammu would be the country’s “first two non-major cities” to get the Rapid Transit network.
The BJP Government at the Centre has set December-2023 and March-2024 as the final deadline for completion and inauguration of most of the infrastructure development projects in Jammu and Kashmir. These include the modernised 4-lane highway between Srinagar and Jammu and USBRL on which most of the tunnels and bridges have been completed between Katra (Jammu) and Banihal.
After completion of the two ambitious road and rail projects, the valley of Kashmir, as well as the UT of Ladakh, will get the first 24x7x365 surface communication connectivity with Jammu, New Delhi and the rest of the country.
“Until 2013, there was only one tunnel (Jawahar Tunnel) in J&K. By the middle of 2024, we will be having a total of 100 small and big road and rail tunnels. Once a terror capital, J&K is fast transforming into India’s tunnel capital. The Government of India is keen to complete all works, except the Zojila tunnel) before the Lok Sabha elections of 2024”, said an official.