‘India-Bangladesh rail project to suffer due to lack of funds’
Agartala, February 27
Criticising the railway budget, Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said Friday that the India-Bangladesh railway project will suffer due to lack of funds.
“Due to lack of funds, the land acquisition for the India-Bangladesh railway project connecting Tripura would be delayed. The new railway project will also suffer,” Dey told reporters here.
He said: “In the railway budget (for 2015-16), there was no fund allocated for land acquisition. We want the early completion of the vital railway project.”The minister said the total cost of the proposed project was earlier estimated at Rs.271 crore. In addition, Rs.302 crore was needed to acquire around 100 acres of land in India for laying tracks.
“The preliminary work has started to lay a 15-km railway track to link Agartala with Bangladesh’s (southeastern city) Akhaura. The project would be operational at the earliest as the two countries are very serious to execute the plan,” a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official said.
Of the 15-km railway line, five km of tracks fall in the Indian territory and remaining in Bangladesh.
“The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh would boost the socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries,” the minister said.
“The state-owned (Indian Railway Construction Company) IRCON would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border,” he said.Dey said: “After the implementation of the new railway project, it would be much easier and cost effective to ferry men and materials for northeastern states from rest of India and abroad via Bangladesh.”
Agartala came up on the country’s rail map in October 2008.
Agartala is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi via Guwahati and Shillong, whereas the distance between Tripura’s capital and Kolkata through Bangladesh is just about 350 km.
The NFR is the agency to implement the new railway project, which was decided upon when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting with Indian former prime minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi in January 2010.
In the current year’s (2014-15) railway budget, Rs.145 crore has been allocated for the India-Bangladesh railway scheme, for which the central government will bear the entire cost.