Rly minister urged to extend rail freight corridor to Attari

Amritsar, 19 Nov 2015:– A city-based NGO has written to Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking extension of the eastern rail freight corridor up to the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari. The NGO has also urged the railways to initiate a campaign to turn its properties green and take other measures to bolster trade and travel.

Gubir Singh of Dalbir Foundation, in a communiqué sent to the minister, requested the extension of eastern rail freight corridor till the Attari border. “Although it was approved by the last government, there were some indications that it is being reconsidered,” he said. Gubir Singh said merits of the proposal have enhanced trade prospects with Afghanistan, CIS nations and Pakistan and it can create opportunity and establish bonds. This can bring the rail line into the ICP (only 400 metres away) to improve handling of freight in a secure manner as is being done globally. “Start container movement for better movement of bulk cargo through scanning devices to check the movement of contraband,” he requested.

Rail Minister urged by DF to take 4 strategic decisions for Amritsar in particular, and the nation in general:
1. Greenification: Use enormous rail property for greenification and social forestry. Make avenues of indigenous trees on both sides of rail tracks. Plant climbers on walls of properties with backs to rail-lines.(A huge Climate Change game changer & improve aesthetics for travelers to India).
2. Sanitation: Line the tracks with public toilets for the poor. Stop open air defecation on rail tracks, and curb human waste disposal on tracks by railways. (A Swachh Bharat initiative herein fore not recognized).
3. Lay Makhu to Patti Track (25 kms) thereby adding a strategic defence route from northern borders across Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Maharashtra and reducing distance by 240kms from Amritsar to Mumbai. Dove tail this with benefits to pilgrims, tourists, trade & industry connecting North & Western Punjab with rest of nation on fast track.
4. Extend Eastern Industrial & Freight Corridor to Wagah- Create trading route from CIS/Asia with entire subcontinent, and ensure industrial development of border areas of Punjab & generate jobs. Although acknowledged by UPA2, this is being rethought by NDA, which must support the move to re-energise Punjab’s economy.

The NGO also called for improving infrastructure at rail yards for cargo since even the perishables, such as cement, lie open to the vagaries of weather. Export of rice and industrial products from Punjab via the Kandla port will be much easier. He laid stress on the use of enormous unused rail property for social forestry, plant creepers on defaced walls facing rail lines and maintaining of fresh plants at railway stations. Systemic cleanliness, checking of defecation in the open, human waste discharge on rail tracks and garbage collection on rail property were some other measures required to improve health and hygiene, he said. Gubir Singh said there was a need to expedite the extension of rail link between Makhu and Patti. It will shorten the distance between Amritsar and Mumbai by 240 kilometers via Rajasthan. The route will have several benefits such as strategic national impact. It will open a key defence rail network from the border states to the rest of the country and shorten distance between Amritsar and Mumbai by 240 km. This freight corridor connects Northern Punjab, through Rajasthan with the ports of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

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