Mumbai, May 12: In what is believed to be a boost to rail connectivity in the hilly state Uttarakhand, the Indian Railways will begin the final location survey for providing rail links to four important Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand this week. The project is planned at an estimated cost of over Rs 40,000 crore where Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a railway PSU, has been entrusted with the task of undertaking the final survey for rail connectivity to Chardham-Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath through Dehradun and Karanprayag. As per the Reconnaissance Survey, the total route length is 327 km at estimated cost of Rs. 43,292 crore. Also Read - Cyclone Nivar: Railways Cancels Over Dozen Trains to Southern States, Passengers to be Refunded

Taking forward the vision of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to link the Chardham pilgrimage centres through rail connectivity and in keeping with its budgetary commitment, the Indian Railways is taking the significant step to commence the Final Location survey for a single BG line rail connectivity for the Chardham Pilgrimage. Also Read - Coronavirus: Devotees Won’t be Allowed Holy Dip in Ganga River in Uttarakhand on Kartik Purnima

The existing rail-heads or the nearest railway stations to the proposed Chardham connectivity are Doiwala, Rishikesh and Karanprayag (on the upcoming Rishikesh-Karanprayag new rail line under construction by RVNL) at mean MSL ranging from 400-825 m. The proposed Chardham rail line connecting to 2000 m MSL and above will be an engineering challenging feat. Also Read - Uttarakhand Allows Fishing-Angling Again - All You Need to Know About Norms And Restrictions

Chardham to get rail connectivity

Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu and Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat will lay the foundation stone for final location survey for rail connectivity to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri at a program on May 13, 2017, at Badrinath. The final location survey has been sanctioned at a cost Of Rs.120.92 crore in Budget 2017-18  while Railway PSU, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) Entrusted to Undertake the Final Location Survey.

About Chardham:

Chardham is one of the unique cornerstones of Hindu pilgrimage which is intertwined to mystical and spiritual aspirations of every devout Hindu. A large number of pilgrims visits Chardham while foreign and domestic tourists are attracted to trekking & sightseeing in the state of Uttarakhand. The four dhams- Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath have their varied and distinctive elevation levels along with spiritual significance.

The Yamunotri marks its origin of the river Yamuna is situated at 3,293 metre above sea level while the Gangotri tracing the origin of the river Ganga is situated at 3,408 metre above sea level. Kedarnath, which is one of the 12 Jyotilingas at 3,583 metre height is housing the shrine of Lord Shiva while Badrinath is the housing the shrine of Lord Vishnu which is situated at 3,133 metre height above sea level.

The ambitious project envisages bringing in a new era of safe and comfortable travel, said a senior Railway Ministry official. The Indian Railways is also pursuing its ambitious project of constructing a new rail line between Rishikesh and Karanprayag and efforts are underway to fast-track the project.

Estimated Cost:

  • As per the Reconnaissance Survey the total route length is 327 km at estimated cost of Rs. 43,292 Cr.
  • The REC Survey recommends 21 new stations, 61 tunnels totaling to 279 km tunnel length and 59 bridges.
  • The alignment will have ruling gradient of 1 in 80 with a maximum degree of curvature of 5 degree.

Aim of the rail connectivity project:

  • The Railway envisages bringing in a new era of safe and comfortable travel through this Chardham Rail Connectivity Project.
  • Alongside, Indian Railways through Rail Vikas Nigam Limited is concurrently pursuing its ambitious project of construction of new rail line between Rishikesh and Karanprayag and efforts are underway to fast-track the completion of the project.
  • These rail projects shall add momentum to the progress of the State by connecting far-flung areas besides boosting opportunities for the tourism and economic development.
  • When completed, these rail projects would script their own unique engineering marvels in the history world railways.

Chardham to get rail connectivity

Reiterating his commitment to fast-track this rail project, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, to lay the foundation stone for the Final Location Survey For Single Broad Gauge Line Rail Connectivity at a ceremonial program to be held in the presence of Chief Minister of Uttarakhand  Trivendra Singh Rawat, as the Chief Guest on the occasion at 12.30 p.m. on 13 May 2017 at Badrinath. Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh, and Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha of the region along with the Members of Legislative Assembly, Uttarakhand are also slated to grace the function with their distinguished presence.

Challenge for Indian Railways:

Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways has been entrusted to undertake the Final Location Survey for rail connectivity to Chardham and Chardham Yatra (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath & Kedarnath via Dehradun & Karanprayag) in the State of Uttarakhand.

Chardham to get rail connectivity

  • The alignment will pass through the rugged mountainous terrain of mighty Himalayas.
  • The Railway has to meet the challenges of railway construction integrating the unique challenges of the terrain and adverse geology along with limits of load, capacity, safety and speed.
  • The four Dhams have their varied and distinctive elevation levels along with unique spiritual significance.
  • The Yamunotri tracing the origin of River Yamuna is situated at 3293 m above Mean Sea Level (MSL) while the Gangotri tracing the origin of River Ganga is situated at 3408 m above MSL.
  • The Kedarnath housing the ne of Lord Shiva, is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas at 3583 m above MSL, while Badrinath housing the ne of Lord Vishnu is at 3133 m above MSL.

Rail Vikas Nigam Limited has undertaken a Reconnaissance Engineering Survey (REC) in the year 2014-15 of the rail connectivity project and has submitted its report in October 2015, recommending two take-off points one from existing Doiwala station and one from Karanprayag station (under construction).

Connecting station:

  • For the Gangotri alignment, the proposed rail link takes off from Doiwala station to connect upto Manneri at 1270 m above MSL marking a route of 131 km via Uttarkashi.
  • For Yamunotri, the alignment is proposed to take off midway from Gangotri link at Uttarkashi making a “Y” connection and terminating at Palar (1265 m above MSL) with a take- off route length of 22 km.
  • For the Kedarnath alignment, the proposed line will take off from proposed Karanprayag station and terminating at Sonprayag(1650 m above MSL) via Saikot with a route length of 99 km.
  • The Badrinath alignment will take off midway from Kedarnath link at Saikot making a “Y” connection and terminating at Joshimath (1733 m above MSL) with a route length of 75 km.

The Chardham yatra had received a severe blow after the flash floods in 2013. Thousands of pilgrims in the region were killed and many were stranded in the deadly terrain. Facilities in the region were however restored over the years. Just a couple of weeks after the Chardham yatra season began in Uttarakhand, nearly 2.5 lakh devotees have already visited the four famed Himalayan shrines which are part of the circuit. The increased arrival of devotees in the initial weeks is also being attributed to the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee to Kedarnath and Badrinath earlier this month.