Centre clears Pathankot-Leh rail link project

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Mandi, Aug 23 (UNI) The central government has accepted in principle the proposal of Himachal Pradesh Government for the construction of Rs 14000 crore rail project linking Pathankot with Leh via Jogindernagar, Mandi, Manali and Rohtang Pass.

Stating this at a press conference here today state BJP president Jai Ram Thakur said the Ministry of Railways would submit the detailed project report by the end of this month.

He said it had become paramount to take up this project on a war-footing ater China had linked Beijing wih Lahasa. ''The rail-link is not only being considered of great strategic significance, but would also promote tourism in a big way,'' he said.

''With the development of China's 1142 km long rail network spread in the hazardous hilly terrain, China has succeeded in attaining 75 per cent increase in the number of foreign tourists in the country,'' he said.

Mr Thakur said the ambitious rail project would not only keep pace with a powerful neighbour in development of rail infrastructure, but would also go a long way in bringing prosperity in the region falling between Pathankot and Leh.

''According to experts this project would also go a long way in maintaining environmental preservation as its execution would follow Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),'' he said.

Mr Thakur said for the conversion of narrow-gauge Pathankor-Jogindernagar rail line into broad-gauge rail line, a sum of Rs 1300 crore had been sanctioned. It was now being envisaged to utilise the already sanctioned Rohtang Tunnel for the proposed rail project.

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