KATRA: Underlining that economic development of Jammu and Kashmir is largely dependent on railways, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today stressed the need for early completion of unconnected stretches of Jammu-Baramulla Railway track.
Omar said that economic linkage of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country is dependent on railways and it will get a comprehensive boost by this initiative.
Addressing the gathering at the inauguration of the Katra rail line project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister also underscored the need for linking Poonch-Rajouri, Doda-Kishtwar in Jammu division and extension of railway tracks in Kashmir Valley to various places particularly Tangmarg, Pahalgam and other tourist resorts.
Omar said that rail services in Kashmir was a dream and referred the significant contribution made by former Prime Ministers - Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh in realising "this cherished desire of the people."
He thanked the Prime Minister for inaugurating the railway track from Udhampur to Katra and expressed hope that the demand of the state for the extension of railway link to various areas would be accommodated for the larger economic and developmental interests of the state.
Omar also sought the Prime Minister's intervention in upgrading and developing the Jammu Railway Station besides the implementation of various tourist and beautification projects to make Jammu and Srinagar model cities of the country.
The train connectivity to Katra, the base camp for pilgrims headed to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine nestled in the Trikuta hills, is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project that will connect the Valley with the rest of the country.
The last link between Katra and Banihal pass, is expected to be completed by 2018. The 25-km long Udhampur-Katra line, commissioned after prolonged delays, has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,132.75 crore.
The train will traverse through seven tunnels and over 30 small and large bridges. There will be a small station - Chakrakhwal - between Udhampur and Katra.
Trains will be able to reach Katra directly as the 53-km Jammu-Udhampur rail line is already operational. This would enable lakhs of pilgrims headed to the revered Vaishno Devi shrine to travel directly to the base camp at Katra.