Plan for two stations – Sangdan, between Qazigund and Sadoora stations, and at Naina Batpora – already scrapped
Anantnag: More than five years after the Union Railway Ministry approved five new halt stations, on the Banihal-Baramulla Railway track, only one has so far been completed – much to the inconvenience of commuters in hundreds of villages.
The halt points were approved by the Railway Ministry in June 2017 and were aimed at making rail services more accessible to the people of Kashmir. Five particular points were identified for setting up these halt stations, in addition to the existing railway stations in Kashmir valley.
“It was because people lamented that they have to travel distances to get to the railway station, and the rail services were not easily accessible to everyone,” an official in the administration of the UT told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the halt points were identified to bring ease to the general public. The new halt points included Razwan, between Budgam and Mazhama stations; Nadigam, also in Budgam district; Ratnipora, between Kakapora and Awantipora stations; Sangdan in Kulgam district, between Qazigund and Sadoora stations; and the fifth in Naina Batpora of Pulwama or Furrah of Anantnag district.
The work, however, has been quite slow on the construction and there seems to be no headway into the completion of any of these apart from the Nadigam one, which is now functional.
The people living in these areas lament that they cannot avail the railway services as the trouble of getting to a railway station is far greater than the ease of rail travel.
“We have to change a couple of vehicles before we get to the nearest station. That is why we prefer traveling by buses or other means of transport rather than the cheaper and more convenient railways,” the commuters told Kashmir Reader.
They said that the completion of these halt points would have been a boon for them, for it would have saved them time as well as money, on daily basis. “But the railway authorities seem to be sleeping on the projects and it looks like they will never be completed,” the commuters said.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Chief Area Manager of the Railways for Srinagar, Saqib Ahmad, who said that two of the five halt points were disapproved by the authorities and the plan to construct them had been scrapped.
“We were left with Ratnipora, Nadigam, and Razwan halt points,” he said, adding that the Nadigam has already been completed and was functional. “Work is in progress on the two other halt points and they will be completed soon,” he said.
Kashmir Reader also talked to a higher ranking Railway official, who on condition of anonymity said that the Ratnipora halt point will take another five months or so to be completed.
“Work was halted on all these projects because of Covid. And then the complicated system of extending deadlines and getting the fines (for slow work) waived off has been another roadblock in the progress of the work,” he explained.
He hoped that these halt points will be completed sooner than later.