Kashmir rail link project delayed further as contractual issues halt construction of Chenab rail bridge

Kashmir rail link project delayed further as contractual issues halt construction of Chenab rail bridge
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Srinagar: After missing several deadlines, the Kashmir rail link project is likely to be delayed further as the construction of the Chenab bridge has stopped since October 2018.

Construction work on the main arch for the iconic bridge over the Chenab river in the Katra-Banihal section – which is a part of the flagship Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project – has stopped since October 20 due to contractual issues, The Wire reported quoting railways sources.

The rail line is now likely to miss the latest 2020 target also as the main work on the bridge has stopped.

The work has stopped over problems involving the anti-rust painting of the main arch and other similar contractual issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter, The Wire report said.

Besides the painting problem, other issues including arbitration have also cropped up between Konkan Railway and contractors which have caused stoppage of the work, thus posing further delays in the project, sources added.

Estimated to cost Rs 1,250 crore, the Chenab bridge work started in July 2017 with a target of completing construction by the end of 2019.

Railway Board Member (Engineering) Vishwesh Choubey, however, maintained that the deadline will be met despite the temporary stoppage of work.

“There are arbitration issues and work has stopped. But we are hopeful of meeting the target,” Choubey told The Wire.

The Chenab bridge is located in the Himalayas and comes with extremely complex, fragile and daunting geological features in the form of faults, folds and thrusts. Detailed site-specific seismic analysis have been carried out by IIT, Roorkee and IISc Bangalore.

The cost of the Kashmir rail link project was estimated at Rs 2,500 crore when it was approved in March 1995, it was expected to be completed in 2002.  After missing that deadline, the-then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had in 2002 declared Jammu-Srinagar rail link as a national project and fixed August 15, 2007 as deadline for its completion.

Since then it has missed several deadlines set by successive governments.