Rishikesh Karnaprayag Rail Route in Uttarakhand: A Few Facts:
1) The proposed line would run parallel to the flow of Ganga.
2) The Railway Ministry has finally allocated Rs 40 crore in the year 2010-11 out of the estimated project cost of Rs 4,295.30 crore for the new rail line connecting Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to Karanprayag in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
3) In the second phase, the proposed line would extend up to Mana (height 3,150 metres approx), beyond Badrinath near the China border.
4) The Rishikesh-Karanprayag project to be set up by the Railway Board has the status of National Project. That is all the funding to be done under the auspice of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) or Central Govenment.
5) The Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail route not only opens growth opportunities to the backward region of Garhwal (and that is most important). The Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail route also means (to theists) the linking of the Ganga from its celestial abode in the Himalayas to the ocean at Gangasagar in West Bengal. In short, now a religious person can reach Ganga at highest reaches via Howrah –Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail route.
6) In early 1900s, the four main shrines of Uttarakhand — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — collectively known as the Char Dhams of the Garhwal Himalayas — could be reached only by foot.
Courtesy the British, motorable roads came into existence in the first half of the 20th century. These roads were opened to pilgrim traffic in 1934, making Rishikesh the gateway to lofty mountains of the Garhwal Himalayas. The first segments of road were Rishikesh-Tehri-Dharasu, Rishikesh-Devprayag-Kirtinagar and Kotdwara-Srinagar-Chamoli.
The Rishikesh-Karnaprayag Rail line will traverse through the districts of Dehradun (Rishikesh), Tehri, Rudraprayag and Chamoli.
7) The Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail route runs along the Rishikesh-Karanparyag National Highway (NH-58), atleast for some length, running parallel to the river Ganga. Thereafter, it crosses over to the south bank of the river Ganga in order to connect Srinagar and other important towns of Garhwal region.
Some of the important towns on the proposed alignment are Muni-Ki-Reti, Shivpuri, Dev Prayag, Kirti Nagar, Sri-Nagar, Rudraprayag, Gauchar and Karan Prayag. Beyond Karan Prayag lie important religious and tourist places like Nand Prayag, Gopeshwar, Chamoli, Joshi Math, Auli, Tapovan, Vishnu Prayag, Pandukeshwar. Badri Nath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkunt Sahib etc. The holy places and those falling in the influence zone are Pauri, Tilwara, August Muni, Gupt Kashi, Okhi Math, Gori Kund, Kedar Nath, Tungnath, Rundra Nath, Bansi Narain, Kalpeshwar, Madhya Maheshwar, Nandi Kund and Nikanath.
8) The first survey for the Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail line was done in 1919 on the initiative of then Deputy Commissioner of Garhwal JM Clay. The second survey was done in 1996 and the project was not found financially viable. In 2009, the Railway Ministry rejected the project again on the same ground. After that, the Union Government decided to take up the line’s construction as a National Project, considering its importance strategically and for the region’s socio-economic development. The project is likely to be completed by 2019.