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NAINITAL: To ensure faster transportation of timber and wood from one place to another, the forest department used to operate its own 'Tramway rail' till the late 1980s.
The Tanakpur-Boom tramway in Champawat district and another in Kathgodam-Nandhaur, which started in 1923-24, used to operate on these routes but became defunct over a period of time.
In a bid to preserve heritage, the department has decided to revive the tracks and related items.
However, the officials are encountering problems due to less historical information. This has invariably made the process to locate engines or coaches of the tramway rails, which stopped in the late 1980s.
Prakash Arya, deputy director, Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, said, "Though it is difficult to revive those tram rails and tracks, we will collect records and photographs to showcase them at our museums and guest houses."
During the colonial rule in India, commercial tree felling was a major source of income for the British. Gradually, tramway rail tracks were laid to promote transportation of commercial timber and wood.
As part of the exercise, trees were cut and the logs were thrown into fast-flowing rivulets, canals and other water bodies to collect them from specific spots. The practice became popular due to the difficult terrain and unavailability of manpower in comparison to the surging demand.
The logs were collected and further transported to various places. Kathgodam and Tanakpur were two such collection spots.
Stating that they recently found copies of layout plans dating back to 1927-37 providing vital information on tramway rail tracks, Arya added, "Nandhaur-Kathgodam was a 30-km track whereas Tanakpur-Boom was 4 kms. Though tracks can be found at some places these are in a bad state."
"We are also trying to procure engines and coaches used at that time. The tramway remained functional till the late 1980s before the Forest Development Corporation came into existence and decide to dismantle the rail and the tracks," he added.
Though the practice continued in the post-independence era, with forest conservation laws being framed, the tracks ceased to be a vital tool.
This article first appeared on timesofindia.indiatimes.com
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