More water passages in rail track: authorities unaware of state govt’s request

SRINAGAR: A top railway official said on Saturday that railways “does not know” what happened to the state government’s communication suggesting more water passages may be made in the Qazigund-Baramulla track as a flood safety measure.
The government had said that the railway track, which created a long barrier between south, central and northern low-lying areas of the Valley, could be one of the reasons for the devastation wreaked by the 2014 flood.
The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society also came out with a detailed report on how the track was responsible for inundation of villages which had never been flooded before. Studies by various NGOs corroborated these findings.
On the sidelines of a press conference at Srinagar railway station, this reporter asked northern railway general manager AK Puthia whether the railways had taken any step in response to state government’s suggestions for creating extra water passages.
“I am not aware what happened to that state government communication. It has not been shared with me therefore I don’t want to comment,” Puthia said.
Puthia told reporters that Banihal-Katra rail link would be completed by 2020. He said that about 35% of the work on the 25 tunnels between the 110-km Baramulla-Udhampur stretch has been completed.
Puthia was on a visit to Kashmir to take stock of the situation and look at the issues faced by passengers, ahead of a parliamentary team’s visit scheduled on July 9.
He also said as of now no more coaches could be added to the Kashmir trains as the platform strength is of eight coaches and adding extra coaches would cause inconvenience to passengers.
“We can add more coaches only after we get the approval of the railway board,” Puthia added.