Silchar, Sept. 14: The general manager of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), Ranjit Singh Birdi, last night hoped that the 201km-long broad gauge connection through a hill section, now under construction since 1998, would be completed by December next year.
The conversion from the present metre gauge to broad gauge in this difficult hilly stretch was flagged off here by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 1996.
The NFR has earlier pointed out many times that several hindrances, including insurgency in Dima Hasao district and the railways’ persistent delay in providing the clearance for the takeover of a forest land along the new broad gauge alignment, have come as stumbling blocks in regard to the timely commissioning of this project.
When NFR (construction) began the work, the original outlay of this project was Rs 648 crore but the delay as well as the revision of the deadlines has zoomed its cost to Rs 1,800 crore.
While addressing the media and railway officials in Karimganj town last night, Birdi, however, did not elaborate as to how this job of realigning this route, with 45 per cent of work yet to be completed, could be possible by this latest deadline.
The general manager said, “Of course, there are still some problems about the construction on this route, but the NF Railway is firmly bent on removing these obstacles in a bid to award this broad gauge line to the people of this land, covering vast regions of the Barak valley, Mizoram, Tripura and parts of Manipur.”
Birdi also said he was considering a proposal to introduce a second passenger train on the 50km Silchar-Karimganj inter-district rail route.