Thousands gather at Kud station in Hazaribagh on Sunday to welcome the first rail engine. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Hazaribagh, Dec. 22: A diesel engine arrived at Kud station in Hazaribagh today, first time in six decades, ushering in a new era in this part of the state.
Around 40,000 people started beating drums and shouting slogans as the engine, on a trial run, reached here at 3.05pm from Koderma station, around 79km away, connecting the district to the Indian Railways network.
BJP MP Yashwant Sinha, Congress MLA Saurabh Narayan Singh, CPI state secretary Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Mehta, among others, were also present at the station to cash in on the moment.
Hazaribagh sadar MLA Singh gave all credits to the Congress-led UPA government for turning the six-decade-old dream into a reality.
Hazaribagh MP Sinha, who was actually behind this project, said everyone wanted a piece of the pie now.
I have documents to prove how I pursued this project for decades. When I was the finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajypayee government, I had left no stone unturned to get this project cleared, Sinha told a gathering outside the Kud station.
Even JVM supreme Babulal Marandi did not remain behind in the race to earn some brownie points on the occasion.
Marandi, who was in Hazaribagh yesterday, claimed he was behind this ambitious 200km Ranchi-Hazaribagh-Koderma project under the East Central Railway.
As the chief minister, I had taken initiatives to make the central government release their share of the funds to complete the work, Marandi claimed.
The trial engine today crossed nine stations and two halts between Koderma and Hazaribagh stations.
In June, a similar trial run was conducted on the 56km Koderma-Katkamsandi stretch.
The entire line is expected to be ready by the end of 2014.
According to sources, the railways safety department will now start final work, like checking tracks, joints and signals, before giving a no-objection certificate to start full-fledged services.
It will take another three months, said a railway official.
Officials claimed that the newly built Kud station was as good as any big junction across the country.
The new building has all modern facilities right from computerised ticket counters and inquiry centres, to food plaza and posh waiting rooms, site in-charge Santosh Pandey said.
This apart, there is an RPF thana on the station premises for the convenience and safety of passengers.
Also, once full-fledged operations begin, passengers can enjoy a picturesque ride between Koderma and Hazaribagh with scenic Telaiya Dam, forests and hills falling along the way.
Despite being the headquarters of North Chotanagpur commissionerate, comprising Giridih, Dhanbad, Koderma, Chatra, Ramgarh and Bokaro districts, Hazaribagh has been lagging behind in terms of development due to poor connectivity.
In 1999, local MP Yashwant Sinha had laid the foundation stone for the project.