Fazilka, January 2
The then Union Railway Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had visited the border belt in January 1954. The staff accompanying Shastri had estimated an expenditure of Rs 25 lakh for laying the rail track between Fazilka and Abohar.
However, after a long span of 58 years, a sum of Rs 250 crore has been spent on laying the track. But it is still not operational.
"It seems that none of the official of the Central Government and the Railway Department understands the importance of the tax payer's money. The highly paid employees are not doing their job well. Had our leadership understood the importance of the revenue gains from the Fazilka-Abohar rail track, they would have made it operational by now," rued Dr Bhupinder Singh, professor, IIT Roorkee, and also patron of the Graduate Welfare Association (Fazilka).
At the fag end of the tenure of the Punjab Government, the promise to accord district headquarter status to Fazilks has been fulfilled. However, the Central Government lags behind in fulfilling yet another promise of making the Abohar-Fazilka rail link operational despite the fact that it has been a year since the entire 42-kilometer track has been laid.
Notably, employees' quarters on all the railway stations and on the track have been constructed. The staff has also been posted. The Dangarkhera ROB on the Fazilka-Abohar road has been completed.
The trains to be run on this route have already been mentioned in railway time-table. The deadlines for running the trains have been fixed a number of times.
However, the trains have not been run causing great financial loss to the Railway Department which has already spent about Rs 250 crore on the project. "The return of revenue (ROR) has not begun due to indifferent and callousness of railway department and commuters are deprived of the cheaper and comfortable journey. The residents of Fazilka and Abohar subdivisions are perturbed over the unwarranted delay in running the trains", alleged Northern India Rail Passengers Samiti Chairman Dr Amar Lal Baghla.
"We are disciplined people, we can not follow the practice of 'anshan (fast)', 'dharna (demonstration)', 'rally', 'putla phoonk (burn effigy)'. Most of the time the political will is put in the negative perspective and the employees who are 'not dutiful' get away scot-free. It is the worst kind of corruption which is stagnating the state and central governments," rued Dr. Bhupinder Singh.
"With the commissioning of this track, there would be a direct link from Jammu and Kashmir to Rajasthan and Gujrat,"said Dr. Baghla.
They have demanded the running of the trains immediately on this route for the convenience of the commuters.