NEW DELHI: The Railway Budget might have invited pretty harsh criticisms for ignoring various states, but for Northeast, it is all happy news. This year, besides seven new trains, Rs 5,116 crore has been earmarked for 23 strategically-important rail projects in the Northeast.
The current outlay for the region under the proposed ‘Connectivity to Remote Areas’ plan is a 54 per cent jump over allocations in the previous fiscal.
Union Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said of 23 projects underway to improve connectivity to Northeast, 11 are national projects that involve 3,290-km-long rail line costing Rs 48,485 crore to the national exchequer.
He also promised to push for early completion of already delayed projects. “With higher allocations and by close monitoring of works in this region, I hope that Dudhnoi-Mendipathar new line, Lumding-Badarpur-Silchar gauge conversion, Harmuti- Murkongselek and Balipara-Bhalukpong sections will soon get commissioned. These measures will also give a boost to the state capital connecting projects in the region,” the Union Railway Minister said.
The Dudhnoi-Mendipathar line connects Meghalaya to the rail road.
The ongoing projects also aim to complete gauge conversion of Rangiya-Murkongselek by 2015 and establishing connectivity to Tripura by completing gauge conversion between Lumding-Silchar by March 2015. The Centre is also looking to connect remote areas with the Railways completing the important Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge by December 2016.
Another new rail line projects are also in the pipeline to connect Manipur by completing Jiribam-Imphal project.
The gauge conversion between Rangpara and North Lakhimpur will also connect Arunachal Pradesh with the rail network.
The 11 national projects also include the 21.5-km Tetelia-Byrnihat, 88-km Dimapur-Kohima, Bhairabi-Sairang, Agartala-Sabroom, Sivok-Rangpo and Byrnihat- Shilong projects, which are strategically important for the country for defence mobility and infrastructure development in the region.
Gowda also announced completing the missing links in Jammu & Kashmir and promised to finish the project linking Banihal to Katra as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently inaugurated the Udhampur-Katra rail link and announced two new express trains to Jammu from Indore and Kanpur.