MUMBAI: The world's highest rail bridge being constructed over Chenab river in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir will be "terror attack-proof" and is expected to be completed by early 2019, the Konkan Railway has said.
"Apart from being safe from all the possible angles including earthquake, this bridge would be absolutely safe to sustain terror strike and every precautionary step is being considered to make it foolproof," Konkan Railway Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta told reporters who visited the bridge site.
"I want to assure you all that this bridge would be most safe and perfect way to travel," said Gupta.
He said almost 60 per cent work is done, and after completion, the maximum permissible limit for a train over the bridge would be 90 kmph. An 18-coach train can tolerate wind speed of 80 kmph while passing through it.
"We are making the bridge to be terror-proof. We have taken logistical support of DRDO officials and when completed, the bridge's pillar and other parts can sustain a jolt created by 40 kg of RDX with no immediate adverse effect on the operation of the trains," another senior official said.
The bridge project passes through the interiors of Reasi and Banihal districts in Jammu & Kashmir having active militancy in adjacent areas, and owing to the adverse law and order situation, "we are executing the project under the supervision and suggestions of security forces," he said.
The actual construction of the 359-m high and 1,315-m long rail bridge started in 2005 and it was initially slated to be completed in December 2009.
However, in 2008 the work was stopped amid fears over its stability and safety, and its construction restarted in 2010 which officials hope to complete by early 2019.
The bridge is a part of the much awaited 326-km long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link (USBRL) that is going to connect Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.
Apart from the bridge, the KR, in its 35 km-long stretch of construction, is also building 14 tunnels, out of which 12 are completed and two other tunnels would be ready in next one-and-half year.
Terming the ongoing construction work as most extra-ordinary, the project's chief engineer R K Hegde said, "Not only the bridges, tunnels and emergency tunnels that we are building, we have also built the approach roads up to 124 kms along with the project stretch, which are widely used by villagers. The roads have solved their connectivity problems."
"When this marvellous bridge would be completed, it would be an international icon for tourists," Hegde claimed, adding that hoteliers and other investors have started purchasing land in the vicinity to construct hotels, in order to woo tourists.
Replying to a query on whether the project missed the deadline for want of funds, Gupta said, "This national project is personally being monitored by the Prime Minister's Office and there was no shortage of funds."
"Out of Rs 6,100 crore, the estimated cost of the project, we have utilised almost Rs 2,900 crore," he said, adding that they have mobilised a team of about 200 staff and engineers for executing the project from three camps at Reasi, Kauri and Sangaldan.