World’s highest railway bridge over Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir to be ready by 2021

New Delhi: The world’s highest railway bridge over river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir will be ready by 2021, and will connect the valley with the rest of India by train for the first time by 2022, officials said on Sunday.

The bridge, which has a central span of 467 metres, is being built at a height of 359 metres from the bed level.

“This is the tallest railway bridge in the world and the maximum designed wind speed for the bridge is 266 kmph,” a senior government official said.

“The construction work of the bridge was accelerated in the last one year under the direct supervision of the top echelons of the central government,” the official added.

According to the plans, Kashmir will be connected with train by December 2022.

The Udhmapur-Katra (25 Km) section, Banihal-Quazigund (18 Km) section and Quazigund-Baramulla (118Km) section have already been commissioned.

The last remaining section, the 111 km Katra-Banihal section is currently under execution. It is targeted for completion in December 2022. The 126 km out of 174 km of tunnels on this section has already been completed.

There has been a greater push in the last one year for implementation of various projects under the Rs 80,068 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) announced on November 7, 2015, the official said.

The package is meant for strengthening socio-economic infrastructure and balanced regional development of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The programme touches practically every sector and provides for massive investments in basic infrastructure,” another official said.

After the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was left with 54 projects under the PMDP with an outlay of Rs 58,627 crore.

A total of nine projects with an outlay of Rs 21,441 crore were transferred to the UT of Ladakh.

“The work in the PMDP since June 2018 and particularly in the last one year has been rapid and unprecedented,” the official said.

The expenditure on various projects, which was 27 per cent of the sanctioned cost in June 2018, has shot up to 54 per cent in July 2020.

The number of completed projects and substantially completed projects has correspondingly shot up from seven in June 2018 to 17 in July 2020.

Bottlenecks, which were holding up as many as nine projects about two years ago, have been removed.