The Indian Railways has decided that Sanskrit will replace Urdu as the third language on platform signboards in Uttarakhand, The Times of India reported late on Saturday. The name of stations will be displayed in English, Hindi and Sanskrit.

Railway authorities said the decision was taken in accordance with the railway manual, PTI reported. “According to the railway manual, the name of a railway station on platform signboards should be written in the second official language of the state concerned after Hindi and English,” said Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Deepak Kumar.

In 2010, the Uttarakhand government had given Sanskrit the status of second language. Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”, who is now the Union minister of human resource development, was the chief minister at the time. Unidentified government officials told The Times of India that the Moradabad railway division issued the directive after a local leader pointed out the government’s 2010 decision.

Asked why it took the railways so long to make this decision, Kumar said: “Earlier, Urdu was used on signboards since Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh, where the second language is Urdu. We are now making the change after someone pointed this out.”

Rekha Sharma, the senior divisional commercial manager at Northern Railways, also said it was recently pointed out to the staff that Sanskrit was the state’s second language, and therefore, the names of railway stations should be written in Sanskrit too. “However, it is a daunting task for us to know how the names of cities will be written in Sanskrit,” she added.

SK Agarwal, an official from the commerce and tax department at Dehradun Railways, said a letter had been sent to the magistrates of districts that have railway stations, asking them to provide the correct spelling of stations in English, Hindi and Sanskrit.