Neglecting Himachal- a Strategic Blunder

Ever since our independence, our successive governments in the state as well as in the center seem to be selectively neglecting the strategic rail network in Himachal, the front-line state vs China. Himachal's economy horticulture and tourism, and India's image stand to gain from it.Honest political will and strong nationalism are required to achieve this goal.

The British took just 5 years to complete , in 1931, 163 KM of narrow gauge railroad , from Pathankot to Jogendranagar. We had more than 60 years, and still, we could not construct the smaller stretch up to Mandi. A rail head up to Mandi , would not only be highly profitable from tourism point of view but it has a vital strategic importance for the nation , too.
Mandi, in Himachal is a junction and a hub , connecting Panjab through Pathankot and Chandigarh , through Kiratpur and Bilaspur. Imagine the connectivity with Kullu , Manali , Rohatang and right up to Leh. In case of a conflict with China this vital link would be the life-line for our infantry and artillery re-enforcements. There is another weak link to Himachal. Ambala to Una and again Chandigarh to Una are just single broad gauge lines. Chandigarh and Ambala cantonments would have to grapple with many handicaps during the troop movements. How could our military planners, strategists and decision making political masters commit such a blunder by ignoring the importance of this these two vital routes through Himachal Pradesh.
Even today, 64 years after our independence, we are still observing staunch regionalism at the cost of our greater national interests. Our Railways ministers are more interested In connecting their state capitals with New Delhi, rather than making an effort to counter a live threat from China. Such a typical Indian gaffe can only be termed as strategic hara-kiri. We are already too late. We do not seem to have learnt our lessons from the 1962 debacle. We are reduced to wishful thinking, hoping, one day a Himachali would become our railway minister, who may be able to take such a decision thereby benefitting the nation as a single entity.
The Pragmatic proposals are once again being mentioned with the help of a not-to-scale cartographic display.
1) A broad gauge line be constructed from Pathankot to Mandi just along side the existing narrow gauge Pathankot--Jogendernagar line.
2) Twin broad gauge lines be ensured from a) Chandigarh b) Ambala Cantt. To Kangra in order to connect it to Pathankot--Jogendernagar line. ( The single line already exists up to UNA. Extension up to Kangra is required.

I am writing this article as a true Indian, and not as a Himachal resident. The core interest of my nation is on my mind. Another bi-product of such a project would be highly fruitful for the economy as well as the image of India and the Himachal Pradesh. It will ease the to and fro tourist traffic and also the movement of perishable fruits and vegetables from Himachal to other parts of our country. The Kangra valley, one of the most beautiful regions of himachal had always remained a neglected heaven. With this development, Dharamsala, Kangra , Palampur, Baijnath, Jogendernagar, Bir & Billing will come alive with international tourism and become a source of immense revenue for Himachal Pradesh.
As Indians, it is our prime and cardinal duty to raise our voices and create pressure groups so that our country's decision makers are face to face with ground realities and they are prodded to rise above the petty party politics and let this project see the light of the



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