Connecting Northeast: Railways plan 517-km roadmap by 2020
Guwahati, May 10 (PTI): The railways has a 517-km roadmap in place to bring the Northeast region closer to the heartland by 2020, officials said today.
Northeast Frontier Railway officials say in doing so the railways has to deal with difficult terrain, loose soil, inclement weather conditions and even law-and-order problems, which have delayed projects in the region for decades.
We have set a target of 2020 to connect these state capitals to the main railway network. Once these are complete, new trains which would directly link these to the metros will be introduced. This will not only help regional connectivity within these states, but also bring the Northeast closer to the rest of India, said A K Yadav, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), NFR.
While Guwahati and Itanagar are already connected to the national network, the capital towns of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Meghalaya have now been taken up for linkages. While Manipur will be connected through a 111-km-long line from Jiribam to Imphal with 37 tunnels and 22 bridges, the capital city of Mizoram will be on the railways’ map through a 52-km new line between between Sairang near Aizawl and Bairabi bordering Assam.
For providing connectivity to Gangtok, work up to Rangpo has been sanctioned which is around 40 km short of the Assam capital and for Nagaland, NFR is building the Dhansiri-Sukhobi-Zubza 91.75 km line with 90 bridges and around 26 km of tunnels connecting it to Assam.
Assam and Meghalaya will be connected through the Byrnihat-Shillong line of 108.4 km. This has faced severe opposition from the influential Khasi Students’ Union which has demanded a discussion with civil society groups and putting in place a comprehensive and an effective mechanism to check influx of illegal immigrants before allowing work on the railway projects. In fact, there is also land acquisition issues.
The lines once commissioned will also help the movement of foodgrain, cement, sugar and other utilities to the northeast and will give a huge boost to tourism.
In these areas, not only is the land treacherous, but there are huge local issues. These have to be resolved before we can construct the lines. Also, there are law and order problems where our officials are kidnapped, ransom demands are made and all these adds up to delays. However, we believe the work will be completed by the 2020 deadline, said a senior official of NFR.
Under the Narendra Modi government’s Mission 2020′, Railways has been tasked with providing connectivity to eight states of the northeast by 2020.