Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rail link between Abohar, Fazilka opens today

A very old dream of the people of Abohar and Fazilka will be fulfilled on Monday. Minister of state for railways KH Muniappa is coming to Abohar to open a train route between the town and its new district headquarters. Naresh Chand Goyal, divisional railway manager, Ferozepur, has confirmed the schedule.

On Wednesday and Thursday, in a precursor to opening the train service, a high-level team led by commissioner of railway safety (CRS) Raj Kumar inspected the new track. In February 2011, the-then railway minister Mamata Banerjee proposed in the rail budget to run a passenger train between Fazilka and Abohar. This February, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi (who has since quit), in his rail budget, proposed to run the Ferozepur-Sriganganagar Express via Fazilka and Abohar.

Abohar and Fazilka, 42-km apart, have no rail link for decades. In February 2004, the-then railway minister, Nitish Kumar, had laid the foundation stone of one and agreed to open it by 2007. Delay completion has shot up the cost to Rs. 210 crore from the original Rs. 88 crore.

The physical work, including the building of platforms en route, was over long ago and even teams were deployed at the new stations between Fazilka and Abohar. Only the train, the main requirement, had not been made operational.

The rail link will not only boost trade on the country's entire western border but also give a swift mode of transport to the army. "The business activity in Abohar and Fazilka will pick up," said Vikram Sharma, a businessman of Abohar. "Right now, it is dormant." "Defence forces need new trains in the region," said captain MS Bedi (retired) of Fazilka.

Tracking every move

Representatives of the Abohar chapter of the India Against Corruption citizens' movement of social activist Anna Hazare had been on hunger strike at their town to demand the train service to Fazilka. The relay fast continued for more than 60 days, and on Sunday, the participants were still on strike.

"We won't cease our agitation until we see the train running on the ground," said Ashok Garg of India Against Corruption. "In papers, it's running since July 1."

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