After missing several deadlines, the rail link project of Kashmir is set to face another delay following a halt in construction process of the Chenab bridge since October 2018.
According to railway sources quoted by The Wire, construction work on the main arch for the iconic bridge over the Chenab river in the Katra-Banihal section – which is a part of the flagship Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project – has stopped since October 20 due to contractual issues.
The rail line is now likely to miss 2020 deadline also as the main work on the bridge has stopped.
The work has stopped over problems involving the anti-rust painting of the main arch and other similar contractual issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter, reported The Wire.
The contradiction between the Konkan Railway and the contractor regarding the quality of the painting has become a hurdle in the project.
Besides the painting problem, other issues including arbitration have also cropped up between Konkan Railway and contractors which have caused stoppage of the work, thus posing further delays in the project, sources added.
The erection of the Chenab bridge has proven to be a challenging task. The main arch in the 1.3-km-long bridge is crucial for the project as it entails carrying heavy segments from two ends of the bridge – the Kauri and Bakkal ends – and involves the world’s longest cable crane arrangement.
Estimated to cost Rs 1,250 crore, the Chenab bridge work started in July 2017 with a target of completing construction by the end of 2019.
Railway Board Member (Engineering) Vishwesh Choubey, however, maintained that the deadline will be met despite the temporary stoppage of work.
“There are arbitration issues and work has stopped. But we are hopeful of meeting the target,” Choubey told The Wire.
The Chenab bridge is located in the Himalayas and comes with extremely complex, fragile and daunting geological features in the form of faults, folds and thrusts. Detailed site-specific seismic analysis have been carried out by IIT, Roorkee and IISc Bangalore.
About two-thirds of the 326 km Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is ready. The portion that needs to be completed is a 111 km stretch between Katra, the Hindu pilgrimage town near Jammu, and Banihal on the slopes of Kashmir valley.
The cost of the Kashmir rail link project was estimated at Rs 2,500 crore when it was approved in March 1995, it was expected to be completed in 2002. After missing that deadline, the-then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had in 2002 declared Jammu-Srinagar rail link as a national project and fixed August 15, 2007 as deadline for its completion.
Since then it has missed several deadlines set by successive governments