Expressing hope that Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will sanction the necessary funds, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal Tuesday said he will accord top priority to rail projects of national importance.
"I am fully conscious of the difficult task of the finance minister but hope that he will find ways to provide necessary funds for important rail connectivity projects," Bansal said while presenting his maiden rail budget in the Lok Sabha.
"Security of the nation is paramount, and our brave soldiers make immense sacrifices to safeguard our frontiers. Providing need-based rail connectivity to border areas is uppermost on railways' agenda," he said.
Bansal said the national project of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla link and other projects of strategic importance will be taken up on top priority.
"For the first time Arunachal (Pradesh) has been brought into the rail network and we shall commission the Harmuti-Naharlagun line this year. I am happy to inform that works on the new line railway project to connect state of Manipur are in full swing. We are also fast tracking the gauge conversion works on Lumding-Silchar and Rangia-Murkongselek," said Bansal.
The minister said he will pursue approval of certain projects identified as being of national importance like Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line connecting Himachal and Ladakh, Jammu-Poonch via Akhnoor in Jammu region, Tanakpur-Bageshwar in Uttar Pradesh, and Parsuramkund-Rupai line linking Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
"I also propose to take up a new line between Ferozpur and Patti for providing direct rail link between border areas of Ferozpur and Amritsar/Atari," said Bansal.