Plea For Restoration Of Ferozepur-Amritsar Rail Line

    Prior to 1947, Ferozepore in Punjab was a thriving transportation town with great rail and road connectivity with the provincial capital of Lahore and the industrial and commercial capital of Amritsar. Both links were via Kasur, a Tehsil headquarter town in Lahore district. Lahore in 1947 fell into the share of Pakistan and so did Kasur and, as a result, Ferozepore lost both important railway links. A much longer and indirect road linkage was subsequently established between Amritsar and Ferozepore via Harike Pattan confluence of the Beas and the Sutlej.

    But the railway link to date did not see the light of the day. After the 1947 partition of Punjab, the entire border region of East Punjab, which used to be a flourishing area became neglected. The boundary line of prosperity moved Eastwards towards Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. The entire border belt of Punjab from Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Batala, Tarntaran, Patti, Ferozepore, Guru Har Sahai, Jalalabad up to Fazilka became educationally and economically very backward. Amritsar, because of its pre-1947 economic momentum and due to the existence of the Golden Temple remained the only oasis of education, progress and prosperity. Several economists and men of wisdom have been suggesting the reconstruction of the railway link between Amritsar and Ferozepore.

    Former railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav was requested by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2004 to build the missing railway link between Amritsar and Ferozepore. Even the local industry of Amritsar pitched for it. But an obsessed with Bihar only, Mr. Laloo Yadav half-heartedly ordered a survey,which was completed. Later on Mamata Bannerjee, in her lopsided over enthusiasm to dislodge the Left Front, directed all her energies towards the development of new railway lines in West Bengal.

    The not too long ago appointed railway minister Pawan Bansal is a son of the soil, a Punjabi. There was a lot of moral and political pressure on him to start the construction of this long ignored missing link. Finally in the All India Railway Budget of 2013, an announcement was made by the railway minister to include this missing link between Patti in former Amritsar district and the divisional headquarter town of Ferozepore on February 26, 2013. This strategic rail link will shorten the distance between Amritsar and the port of Mumbai by two hundred and forty kilometers.

    With the completion of this rail link, the entire backward border belt starting from Baramula in Jammu and Kashmir via Srinagar, Anantnag, Udhampur and Jammu and then the border belt in Punjab from Pathankot via Gurdaspur, Batala, Amritsar, Tarntaran, Patti, Ferozepore, Guru Har Sahai, Jalalabad, Fazilka and Abohar will be linked to Mumbai via Sri Ganganagar. Since there will be overall less traffic on this Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra corridor, the perishable fruits and vegetables shall be delivered in Mumbai and Gujarat within two to three days. Passenger travel time will be reduced by five to six hours.

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    The most congested National Capital Region (NCR) shall be effectively avoided. This railway line will also give boost to tourism in Vaishno Devi (Katra), Amritsar, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Barmer. Mumbai shall be able to fast-track export its goods by rail to Northern Pakistan via Amritsar and Amritsar will be able to export to the world via Mumbai.

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