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Centre sets sight on rail link

Silchar, Dec. 11: The Centre is planning a rail connectivity with Bangladesh by laying a broad gauge link between Mahishasan under Karimganj district in south Assam and Kulaura in northwest Bangladesh.

A senior official of the Northeast Frontier Railway (construction) last night said the Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, had already been asked by the Railway Board to prepare a techno-economic feasibility report on this rail alignment.

The Mahishasan-Kulaura broad gauge rail link will be 45km long. This new train linkage will provide a new cargo transport outlet from south Assam to eastern India through Bangladesh.

An official added that the metre gauge rail track between Mahishasan and Kulaura is part of the 108-year-old Calcutta-Silchar rail link.

Tea and timber were taken to Calcutta from the Barak districts. Paddy, fish, cement and engineering goods were brought from there to this part of the country in pre-Partition times and even after Independence.

The train link between Indian mainland and south Assam got snapped during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, and now efforts are on to restore this once vital rail connectivity.

The source said the principal chief engineer of the NF Railway, Anil Kumar, will visit Karimganj either late this month or in early January for inspecting the present condition of this once-thriving rail link which fell on bad days after the India-Pakistan war in 1965.

Congress MP in Lok Sabha from Karimganj reserved constituency Lalit Mohan Shuklavaidya, today confirmed that the efforts by the Indian Railways to re-commission the Mahishasan-Kulaura rail link lying moribund for the past 47 years are on with an eye on the prospects of a burgeoning goods traffic for trading activities between India and Bangladesh and also to boost the prospect of overall trading potential between these two nations.

The NFR sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Bangladesh in September 2011, had discussed with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed the prospects of a boost-up of trading between their countries if the rail link with the adjoining country is restored soon.