Manali-Leh rail line may be delayed


Active Member
Source : Tribune India

Shimla, December 14
With the Railway Ministry opposing the grant of construction work of the strategic Manali-Leh rail line to a private firm, chances of the ambitious project, which could herald an economic revolution in Himachal, being delayed cannot be ruled out.

Despite the Prime Minister keen to grant the status of a national project to the rail line, the project is stuck in the Railway Board of the Railway Ministry. Terming it as a strategically very important project, the Railway Board has literally put its foot down over entrusting the task to a private company.

Even though the estimated cost of the rail line is likely to cross Rs 55,000 crore, seeing its importance from the Defence point of view, the Centre too seems to be keen to take it up. The need for an alternate route for Leh-Ladakh and other border areas was felt during the Kargil operation when the Pakistani army had targeted the Army convoys taking supplies to the border areas.

Considered to be an ambitious project whose completion could take over a decade, a private company, ICC Holdings, had shown interest in executing the project and had even submitted blueprint to the state government. They are even wiling to submit the detailed project report of the project within the next two years in case they are granted work.

“The project will not only help usher in economic revolution in Himachal but more importantly it is essential also from India’s security point of view as China has a rail link right inside Tibet,” Chief Minister PK Dhumal said.

The India Railway Transport Service (IRTS) has already submitted the feasibility report of the project, which will connect Jogindernagar-Manali-Keylong-Pangi and finally Leh.

The rail line will be made across the high mountain passes, including Tanglangla, Lachalangla, Baralachala and Rohtang, to assess the feasibility of the project, which has been given nod by the Centre.

The 460 km rail line will have over 200 tunnels. About 245 km of the rail line will be either on surface or on elevated rail track and the remaining 215 km will pass through tunnels.

The state has been pleading the taking up of the project so that the inland areas get rail connectivity which help in giving a major boost to tourism, agriculture and horticulture. So far the rail line is only up to Jogindernagar in Mandi district and its extension will connect Kullu-Manali and Lahaul-Spiti district.