The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Funds steam for rail projects

New Delhi, Aug. 23: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has put a Northeast Rail Development Fund on track for timely completion of projects in the region.

Singh today approved funding of the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge and the Rangia-Murkongselek gauge conversion projects, estimated to cost Rs 1,980 crore. Additional budgetary support will be provided to the railways to complete the projects, official sources said.

A detailed roadmap with target dates will be prepared for these projects with an indication of annual requirement of funds.

Projects in Assam and the Northeast in general are affected as contractors are reluctant to work in the militancy-hit region.

Recently, MPs from Assam urged the railway ministry to speed up the Bogibeel project.

They were told that tenders for the project had been floated twice but only one contractor had shown interest, sources said.

The railways will set up a dedicated fund for these projects and will also bear additional cost.

Singh directed that a uniform funding pattern, on the same lines, would be extended to the remaining five sanctioned national projects in the Northeast.

These projects will be completed in five years and the railway ministry will soon submit a proposal to the cabinet for its approval.

The national projects include the plan to connect Dimapur with Zubza near Kohima and another one aimed at bringing Shillong closer to the railway network.

The Murkongselek gauge conversion project will bring Arunachal Pradesh closer to the rail network. The ministry of development of northeastern region (DoNER) has announced Rs 50,000-crore investment for developing infrastructure in the region.

Today’s development is a breather for the railways, which have been short of Rs 10,000 crore for completion of projects in the region and have been looking to forge public-private partnerships.

Concerned over the absence of contractors for completion of the road-cum-rail bridge in Upper Assam, the railways this month opted for a fresh tender process.

With pressure building up in Assam, which is also Singh’s constituency, the railways have stepped up efforts to ensure that work starts at the earliest.

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