Jammu, Feb 26: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s demand for setting up a rail coach factory in Jammu & Kashmir to overcome industrial backwardness and economic shortcomings in the state has not been met in Tuesday’s rail budget.
Mentioning Jammu and Kashmir while declaring the rail budget Tuesday, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said: “As I proceed, my thought goes to a particularly severe cold spell during the recent winter, when it was snowing heavily in the Kashmir Valley, and suspension of road and air services had brought life to a grinding halt.
“Photographs in newspapers showing a train covered with snow emerging from a similar white background, carrying passengers travelling over the recently commissioned Qazigund-Baramulla section, instilled in me a sense of immense pride.”
He said this in reference to the local intra-valley Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) train plying between south Kashmir (Qazigund) and North Kashmir (Baramulla).
On rail tourism, he announced a “multi-modal travel package” with cooperation of state government of Jammu and Kashmir enabling passengers to travel from Jammu through Udhampur, Qazigund to Srinagar and Baramulla on a common rail-bus ticket.
“With the commissioning of railway line up to Katra very soon, feasibility of issuing ‘yatra parchis’ to pilgrims travelling by rail at the time of booking of the railway ticket is being explored in coordination with Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.”
Speaking on the project of national importance, Bansal said: “Providing need-based rail connectivity to border areas is uppermost on railways’ agenda. The national project of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla and other projects of strategic importance will be taken up on top priority.”
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had last year demanded setting up of a rail coach factory in the state.
The chief minister had said: “The state’s history of the past over two decades is a saga of miseries and loss of precious human lives.
“We have undergone tremendous downward dip in economy, the progress of the state remained stand still, thousands of youth were rendered jobless and trade and industries received series jolt.”
In order to help the state overcome industrial backwardness and economic shortcomings, he said the central government should announce the setting up of a rail coach factory in the state as was done for Punjab.