| Badal Chowdhury |
Agartala, July 26: The Union ministry of environment and forests has given “in principle” clearance to the 110km Agartala-Sabroom rail link.
The ministry has told officials of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) that the final clearance will be accorded soon for the rail link that will pass through reserve forest areas between Udaipur and Sabroom.
A technical delegation of NFR led by the chief engineer of its construction wing, Harpal Singh, met state revenue minister Badal Chowdhury last night and apprised him about the ministry’s decision. The delegation also visited several spots on the under-construction tracks. Engineers and officials of the state PWD department also attended the meeting.
“We have now begun work in right earnest and the minister has promised to resolve all problems relating to land acquisition quickly. In Bishagarh and Charilam areas along the 49km route from Agartala to Udaipur, there were land acquisition problems, but they are now more or less resolved,” said Singh.
Chowdhury instructed officials of the PWD department to resolve land acquisition problems soon and assured the delegation that all problems would be taken care of.
There are some cases related to land where the petitioners have demanded higher compensation. Work will recommence as soon as the railways pay the amount ordered by the court, Singh said. “If problems persist even after payment of higher compensation, the minister assured us that the areas will be cleared.”
He said the entire track between Agartala and Sabroom would be broad gauge. “The gauge conversion work between Lumding and Silchar is on and we cannot make the Agartala-Sabroom tracks in metre gauge. We are hoping to complete the tracks to Udaipur by Mach 2016 and Sabroom by March 2018,” Singh said. Funds for the work have been accorded in the railway budget, he added.
The NFR official said a viable road network connecting stations on the Agartala-Sabroom route needed to be built. “The road network in the state has improved considerably over the past few years with many new roads built under the Prime Minister Gramin Sadak Yojana. A new road connecting stations with sub-divisional headquarters will have to be built passing through Bishalgarh, Udaipur, Belonia, Shantir Bazar, Jolaibari and Sabroom and the state government is taking steps in this direction. In some areas like Surjyamoni Nagar south off Agartala, the existing roads will have to be widened,” the official said.
In a related development, the railways have allocated Rs 245 crore in the current fiscal for construction of the 15km tracks between Agartala and Akhaura junction in Brahmanbaria district of Bangladesh. “The soil testing work will start next week. After that, finalisation of track alignment and construction work will begin,” said Singh.