With an aim to check China’s aggression and provide much-needed impetus to the region’s development, the Modi government has started work on its ambitious plan to link Leh-Ladakh with railway network.
The government has handed over the responsibility of final location survey work for Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh railway line to Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES). The government has already released Rs 40 crore out of the total Rs 157 crore allotted for the survey work.
The cost of construction of the 498-km railway line has been estimated at Rs 50,000 crore.
Apart from being of strategic importance, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line is also expected to boost tourism potential of the area, right from Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh.
Separately, the government is also planning to connect Leh with Srinagar. This proposed railway line will pass through Zoji La and Kargil while connecting the Kashmir Valley to the northernmost part of the country.
Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line would pass through Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh to reach Leh.
To expedite the survey work of the 498-km long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh new railway line, railways has sought land from Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) to set up camp office at Leh. Government wants to strengthen the rail network in areas located close to Tibet.
“We have requested the LAHDC Chairman to allot land for setting up camp office at Leh to speed up the survey work of the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line,” said a senior Northern Railway official.
Northern Railway General Manager AK Puthia has visited Leh along with team of senior officers and discussed the issue of railway connectivity to Ladakh region with the local elected representatives and district administration recently. According to the official, the Chairman LAHDC has advised to submit a formal application in this regard and further assured that the same would be allotted at top priority and hence land will not be a problem.