Delhi High Court today expressed concern over safety of the Katra-Banihal rail link to the Kashmir Valley and directed the Railway Board to file a fresh affidavit vouching that the line was examined in light of various experts’ reports and the current alignment was safe.
A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva issued the direction, saying it has a “lingering doubt” regarding safety of the line and bridges on the rail link to the Valley.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh told the bench there was already an affidavit on record from the Board which said the line was safe. However, the court insisted on another affidavit. “We are only concerned with the safety of the rail line,” it said.
During arguments, the ASG told the court that Ircon International Ltd and Konkan Railway Pvt Ltd which were working on the project have said the current alignment was safe, survivable and stable.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), alleging that the current alignment of the Katra-Banihal rail link had “serious safety problems” and the Railway Board had rejected the expert panel’s suggestions, including having an alternate alignment.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, contended that the Board did not place before an expert panel, headed by ex-DMRC chief E Sreedharan to review the current alignment of rail link, an interim report of an agency which had also examined the feasibility of an alternate alignment.
ASG Singh told the court that the final report placed before the Sreedharan committee contained the entire crux of the interim reports also.
The bench listed the matter for further hearing on February 18.
The Board had earlier in an affidavit told the court that the existing alignment was “well researched, well investigated line where work is progressing successfully without mishaps or problems. The line is fully safe, survivable and stable”.
It had also said that use of tunnel boring machines as suggested by the committee was “not tenable”.
( Source – PTI )