A dead line? Work on J-K rail hits snailís pace
26 December 2007
The Indian Express
Aditya V Singh
Jammu: †The Rs 11,000-crore project to take a railway line to Kashmir, which has already been much delayed, is set for another round of postponement. Construction on the 90 km Katra-Laole stretch, being built by the Konkan Railway Corporation, is crawling. Sources said that while the rate of progress was 170 metres per month till sometime back, now it has fallen to just 70 metres per month. The first official deadline to complete this stretch was 2005, and officials admit that two years later, they are no closer to completing it. The Public Awareness Consultant of KRC for the Katra- Laole project, Yeshwant Jogdeo, is worried about the delay. ďThe progress on the project is not as expected, despite many things being achieved by the KRC. Road links, even in the remotest of areas falling along the project route, have been completed and many other works are under progress. However, the construction work itself is getting affected because of routine strikes and stoppage of work by labourers. These matters are being taken up with concerned divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners,Ē he says. While the entire rail line from Udhampur to Baramulla is nearly 290 km, the Katra- Laole stretch is 90-km-long. Officials accuse trade unions of provoking labourers into stopping work, urging that they demand higher wages. A demand has also been raised to hire more local people for the project. The officials add that while a majority of the workers employed are already local, it is the salary part that is posing a problem. The KRC has further subcontracted the work to other construction companies and it is their prerogative to decide the wages. The labour problems have mounted difficulties in the way of a railway line which is already a logistical nightmare given the geology of the area through which it is to be laid. The areas where the KRC is executing the work have the worst terrain. The rocks are fractured, with fault lines, and the KRC has to tread very cautiously.