Mega block on Lumding-Agartala Rly route worries Tripura govt
AGARTALA, SEPTEMBER 1
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Tripura government is worried over transportation of essential commodities from outside to the landlocked state during a six-month-long mega block of train services along the Lumding-Agartala route due to gauge conversion works.
Replying to a calling attention notice in the Assembly today, state transport minister Manik De said the rail route from Lumding in Assam to Agartala would be closed from October 1 till March 31, 2016 for converting the railway tracks from meter gauge to broad gauge.
De stated the railway ministry has decided to convert the gauge from Lumding to Silchar via Badarpur by March next year and then convert around 227 km from Badarpur to Agartala by March 31, 2016.
“We requested the railway ministry to complete the entire work by March 2015, but they declined. The Assam-Agartala National Highway-44 is not in good shape for carriage of essential commodities. So, it is a matter of great concern for us,” the minister told the Assembly.He said, the state government has asked the Railway Board to create a buffer stock of food materials, construction materials and essential commodities before the mega block starts in the state.
Earlier, the transport minister told reporters that India had asked Bangladesh to permit a shipment of 35,000 tonnes of PDS foodgrains every month via sea route in view of the difficulty to be faced from October onwards with the start of the gauge conversion work.
A trial run to assess the viability of shipping has already been done and the first shipment of 5,000 tonnes of rice has already reached Agartala from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh via Ashuganj port in Bangladesh, De said adding another vessel with 5,000 tonnes would follow soon.
The Centre supplies about one lakh tonnes of PDS foodgrains to the northeastern states of Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Assam every month of which, 60 per cent is transported via railways and the rest through roadways, an FCI official said.