Rly crosses the Chenab ‘bridge’, to resume work

Indian Railways' ambitious plan to construct the world's highest bridge over river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir en route the railway line on the Katra-Qazigund section has got a fresh lease of life. Eleven months after ordering suspension of construction works on the Katra-Qazigund section, the Indian Railways is all set to resume construction work at "some locations" on this section, following the submission of the report of an Expert Committee examining the project.

The Railways has reportedly decided to stick to the location it had originally chosen to construct the Chenab Bridge — billed as the highest in the world at a height of 359 metres from the river bed. At 343 metres, Millau Viaduct in France is the tallest bridge in the world. "The report of the Expert Committee permits us to start work at some locations. We have started conducting technical tests, as indicated by the committee," a Railway Ministry official said.

The Expert Committee, headed by former Railway Board Chairman M Ravindra, has submitted its report to the ministry. While the recommendations of the report are still under wraps, sources said the Committee has agreed for resumption of suspended works on some sections while suggesting major modifications and realignment on some others. The committee is learnt to have said that the Railways can resume work following technical tests that can establish its safety and stability.

Located near the Salal Hydro Power Dam, the bridge was originally planned as a 1,315 metre-long bridge having 17 spans. Despite having spent around Rs 150 crore on the construction work, the Railways has been unable to show much progress in face of tough geological challenges. As per sources, only 25 per cent work on the approach viaduct has been made over the past five years and the progress on the arch-bridge is nil. Afcons Infrastructure Limited was awarded the contract for the bridge.

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