New Delhi, Sept. 29: All the eight state capitals of the Northeast will boast of a railway link by 2016, the DoNER ministry said today.
The railway ministry gave a presentation according to the North East Vision 2020 yesterday and assured the North Eastern Council (NEC) that it would connect all the capitals by 2016, DoNER minister Bijoy Krishna Handique said today.
The cost of the mammoth project is Rs 17,000 crore for which all approvals have been acquired. Sources said the project would certainly be implemented as it was a national project committed by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.. The cabinet has also approved the budget, the sources added.
There is more for the region’s rail connectivity as the railways may commission a link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala, the capital of Tripura, by 2013.
In the meantime, sources said Bangladesh had given the go-ahead for a link between a location close to the Indo-Bangladesh border and Chittagong port.
The next problem now is for the state governments to pull up their socks on acquisition of land for the railways. Many states have still not been able to convince people to giving up their land.
There is hope though. “The Meghalaya chief minister yesterday promised he would clear land acquisition within three months,” an official present at the NEC meeting here said. This will put Shillong up in the list of go-getters for the railway link.
At present, only Assam’s capital Guwahati is connected to New Delhi by the NF Railways. Though the rail link to Dibrugarh in north Assam passes through Dimapur in Nagaland, the state’s capital, Kohima, remains unconnected. Sources said Kohima will be connected by 2016.
Engineers of the railways have saved time by doing a GPS-based techno-survey, a time-saving departure from manual surveys that are manpower intensive and time-consuming.
Handique will visit the Badarpur part of the Lumding-Badarpur section, work on which has been going on for the past several years. “We are pressing for the project to be completed at the earliest so that Agartala can also be connected,” Handique said.
The Lumding-Badarpur line that passes through the North Cachar hills has one small hitch — a 3km-long tunnel. The railways plan to complete the tunnel by 2013. Connectivity to Tripura and thus, into Bangladesh, would then be complete.
Complementing the new railway plan with inland waterway connectivity would increase productivity for the region manifold. The NEC meeting also declared two inland waterways on the Barak and the Brahmaputra to be national waterways.