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Rail link delay irks Tripura

Agartala, Nov. 23: The Tripura government is upset over the railway authority’s inordinate delay in starting work on the 15-km railway link between Agartala and Akhaura railway junction in Bangladesh.

The state government’s stand on the issue was yesterday communicated to a joint central team of officials from the railway, home, DoNER and external affairs ministries.

The six-member central team arrived here yesterday and visited Nishchintapur and Akhaura border checkpoints to see the finalised alignment of the railway track. Nearly 5km of the track will fall in Tripura. The team comprises joint secretary of the ministry of external affairs Radhika L. Lokesh, director of railway board’s construction wing Birendra Kumar, deputy secretary of DoNER ministry Subhas Lather, B.S. Jariwal, representative of Ircon (the railways’ construction wing), S.N. Khandelwal, deputy secretary, home affairs and Smriti Jhaker, deputy secretary, external affairs.

Afterwards, the central team met state PWD minister Badal Chowdhury. Official sources privy to what transpired in the meeting said Chowdhury expressed his “disappointment” over the non-commencement of the track-laying work. “The minister pointed out that Rs 271 crore had been allocated for constructing the Agartala-Akhaura railway track in the 2011-2012 railway budget, but no progress has been made so far. The railways have taken no steps to acquire land either although there was an allocation for this work in the railway budget,” a source said.

The minister also expressed his “amazement” over the non-finalisation of paper work in the form of necessary agreements for the linkage with the government of Bangladesh. A team of high-ranking officials and technocrats of the railways had finalised the alignment of the 15km track between Agartala and Akhaura in June last year, but no land acquisition has been made.

“The DoNER ministry will bear the cost of constructing the 5km stretch of the track, which lies in Tripura and the external affairs ministry will pay for constructing the 10km stretch in Bangladesh,” the source said. There will be two stations, Nishchintapur on the border and Gangasagar in Bangladesh.

The central team also met state government officials, including chief secretary S.K. Panda, ADM (West) S. Nama and transport commissioner Kishore Ambuly.

These officials also stressed on the need for the Centre to show some initiative for early completion of work. The issue of extending the railway track up to Sabroom in south Tripura was also discussed and the central team assured that they would ensure early commencement of the work and ensure its timely completion. The officials also visited Agartala railway station before leaving today.


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