Punjab

Kotkapura to Moga missing rail link, state government and powerful transport lobby is blamed by social activists for delaying the project

Raghbir Singh Brar | January 24, 2020 08:50 PM

"The state government is not allegedly agreed to pay its share because the powerful bus lobby from Malwa dominant by  a political family of Badals. State congress has also a large stake in the transport business and so no government is paying any attention to initiate this project of railways. The nearly 10000 passengers has no option other than to travel in buses, luxury or non stop ones by paying double the fare which is much more than railways. This link would connect border districts of Punjab to state capital besides benefiting state government on its freight charges to transport food grains and fertilizers," Sham Lal Goyal, general secretary of Northern railways passengers Samiti from Muktsar based in Fazilka.

Muktsar/Faridkot: The 50 Kms project of laying new railway track connecting Moga to Kotkapura has been allegedly waiting for the positive response from the state government for about three years after the survey report by railways has been prepared in 2017.

This is very important rail link which needed to be laid because it would connect Faridkot, Muktsar, Fazilka and Bathinda districts with the state capital Chandigarh, giving a lot of relief to the commuters.

Now in absence of any connection between Moga and Kotkapura, the bus lobby is in a win win situation because the people from the region have to travel in the buses which charge much far above the railway fare.

“The railway board had carried out a survey to lay this new rail link between Kotkapura and Moga to join this region with the state capital in 2017. The estimate cost of the link is Rs 13 crore per km and total estimate cost was then Rs 650 crore for the whole stretch of 50 kms. Five railway stations are supposed to come up on the track and it is estimated to enter village Sandhwan from Kotkapura, then to Bagha Purana town of Moga  and finally joining  the Ferozpore railways link in Moga. But as per the rules, the new rail links are laid down with a share of cost on 50-50 per cent ratio. But due to the poor financial health of the state movement, the state did not pay any heed to this project which is very important for public,” claimed Sham Lal Goyal, general secretary of Northern Railway Passenger Samiti based in Fazilka.

“But because the Malwa region, which could benefit a lot from this new rail link if laid, is dominant by a political family which has a large interest in transport and ply its buses on Long routes from Bathinda, Muktsar, Fazilka or Faridkot to Chandigarh, does not want this link to be laid. The congress government has also its stake in transport, so the import rail link is being ignored for decades,” said Sham Lal Goyal.

Earlier, Faridkot MP Jagmeet Singh Brar in nineties had also raised this issue.

“Nearly 8000 to 10000 passengers travel by buses to Chandigarh from these districts, if the new link is laid, these thousands of passengers would get benefit from it as they would get better facilities and have to pay far less fare,” said Vipan Datta, president of the NRP Samiti from Fazilka.

According to the Samiti, if this new rail link is laid, the state government would also be able to save crores of Rupees on the freight charges to transport food grains and fertilizers from Ajitwal in Moga to the different locations of these districts where the railways do not reach.

“This link is also very important for the military as it would connect the border districts to the state capital and other parts of the state,” Goyal said.

“If the state does not agree to pay the share of its own funds as per the policy, the rail link is not possible to be laid. It is only possible if center or the railways department funds it 100 per cent. So due this problem, the project is waiting for the nod of the state government. I had also written a letter to the state government and railways in this regarding two years back, but so far, the survey reports is gathering dust for the three years,” Goyal said.

He said Faridkot MP Mohammad Sadiq had raised this issue in the parliament and has assured to raise it again in the next session; however, Sadiq could not be contacted despite repeated attempts on his cell phone.

Banarsi Das Kakkar, another social worker from Baghapurana town of Faridkot  who has invested a lot of time and energy to see this new project in progress said ,”I am 80 years old and have written countless letters to all the concerned officers of railways and others. The share of the state is one third and two third funds had to made available by the railways. But transport lobby dominant by the landlords and politically connected people do not allow the project to move. I hardly manage to spend for writing letters and follow them up, but I am still engaged in the work  due to my limited income. Even powerful bus lobby does not allow a 12 kms stretch connecting Ferozpore to Amritsar complete which has been approved,” alleged Banarsi Das Kakkar.

“I have got about 1250 grams of written material regarding the laying down of Kotkapura to Moga rail link, officers appreciate me, but I hate politicians who only think about themselves instead of poor people. I want this link to be completed because I want the commuters come back after completion of their works in state capital by night,” said Banarsi Das.

Banarsi Das Kakkar still does not lose help and hope the project to come up soon as per assurances of the railways officials.

 

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