A day after CNN-IBN exposed the failures in the crucial Kashmir Rail Link Project, the Railways has accepted there are problems on ground. The govt could lose a few hundred crores in the much delayed Kashmir rail link project.
Local geologists in Jammu say the railways could have saved themselves the embarassment and the nation crores of rupees had they heeded their warnings.
"We did not have contour sheets, maps, satellite mapping,” said Ankush Krishnan, former MD, IRCON in the audio conversation.
A candid admission, that the prestigious Kashmir rail project began without proper planning which has led to huge delays, rail re-alignments and escalation of the project cost from Rs 4000 crore to over Rs 21,000 crore now - a construction mess which ignored repeated warnings of local geologists.
“The Jammu University has been conducting research in this area through which this railway track had to go for over a hundred years now. But we were not consulted,” said GM Bhatt, Professor, Department of Geology, Jammu University.
And as the project started in the unsurveyed territory, the construction fell apart many times. Three tunnels collapsed, there was water logging and several mid course correction. The safety of the alignment was also being questioned.
With concerns over unsafe alignment, the work on the 126 km Katra-Banihal stretch was stopped in July 2008.
The construction resumed after an 18 month delay and more engineering changes incurring further losses.
Reacting to the CNN-IBN expose the railways however said the losses were minor.
“We shoudnt get bothered that in the project of Rs 20,000 crore magnitude if Rs 100-200 crore somewhere is abandoned,” said AP Mishra, Member Engineering Railway Board.
The Railways hopes the train to Kashmir will meet its 2016 deadline, but admit that surveys and technical studies are still going on over some sections. The question is - why did the Railways ignore safety concerns all these years even as costs mounted.