Railways Brings Highest, Tallest, Bridge To Kashmir12 June 2010
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Upcoming railway line connecting Srinagar with the plains will have the world’s tallest as well as India’s highest railway bridge. An expert team of the Railway Board has approved the alignment of the latter recently. Safety norms forced the Railways to stop implementation of the major stretches of the Katra-Qazigund part of the prestigious project. Later, it was reviewed and alignments in certain stretches were amended. Though the alignment was cleared, but permission to the two major bridges on river Chenab and Anji nullah remained withheld for safety reasons. Last week both the bridges were cleared after experts from IIT Delhi inspected the sites. An IIT team recently visited Reasi district and found the ongoing construction on the 359 meters high bridge fulfilling all the safety norms. This bridge is taller than the Eiffel Tower. Located at Kauri hamlet, around 40 kms from Reasi, it is being implemented by Afcons Infrastructure Limited. Once ready it will beat surpass the record of Millau Viaduct in France that is the highest cable stayed road bridge in the world. Prof K S Rao led the team of experts, railway sources said. Its construction was stopped on July 12, 2008, forcing Railways to appoint a seven-member team to examine the safety concerns. The team later visited Anji bridge that, once implemented, will be country’s tallest railway bridge and also the longest span railway bridge in India. It has cleared its construction as well. Its height from the bottom of the Anji gorge will be 180 meters with a span of 2200 meters. Railways sources said after the clearance, they will be initiating talks with Gamon India for its implementation. It had earlier been allotted the work before its implementation was stopped on safety grounds. Raising fingers on safety norms of the track, especially the two bridges, led to a series of measures. These included engaging foreign consultants and also involving DRDO for evolving a security blueprint for safety of the wonder – the Chenab bridge. A national project, linking Kashmir with Jammu has been a long pending dream of the policy makers in Delhi. While Jammu is already linked with Udhampur, caving in of certain tunnels delayed the start of the Udhampur-Katra stretch that is otherwise ready. The rest of the track has two sections, one connecting south Kashmir Qazigund with north Kashmir Baramulla which is functional for over a year now. Completion of the Qaigund-Katra section will complete the project but will take many more years and lot of money. Sources in the railways said the major tunnel that is connecting Qazigund with Banihal is nearing completion. It is being implemented by the HCC.