New Delhi: An ambitious Rs 80,000 crore plan to build railway lines along India's strategic frontiers is picking up speed. Railway and defence sources confirm that surveys have been completed on 10 key lines with most of the funding likely to come out of the railway budget. Working in tandem railways and the military have identified certain lines that must be given priority in construction.
The strategic lines include the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh railway line will cover a distance of more than 400 km cutting by half the current travel time of eight hours by road. Construction will take place at heights ranging from 6000 feet to 13,000 feet. Another line will connect the military hub of Pathankot with Leh, a distance of 278 km.
In the Northeast a line will connect Misamari in Dhemaji district of Assam to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, a distance of 320 km. Along with other lines in Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, the armed forces will be able to move troops and equipment faster in any emergency.
The key issue is how soon construction can begin on these lines as weather could be a big impediment especially in Kashmir and Ladakh. Much would also depend on how soon money becomes available for the key projects.
India has been bolstering its infrastructure along the border with China to make the movement of troops and military equipments easier. While China has already built all weather roads to its border posts, most of the Indian posts on the Line of Actual Control with China can be accessed only on foot.