AGARTALA: Acquisition of land for a rail link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh is all set to start, following the commencement of the Agartala-Udaipur railway connectivity last week.
The railway and DoNER ministries have taken a major initiative for early completion of the 15km Agartala-Akhaura link.
This connectivity between Agartala and Akhaura railway junction in Brahmanbari district, 9km west of Agartala town, was mooted during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Bangladesh in June 2015.
It was decided that the Centre would finance the entire Rs 252-crore project. But as it got bogged down in land acquisition problems on both sides, the estimated cost escalated considerably.
But, as promised by railway minister Suresh Prabhu last Tuesday, the work is all set to start on the project through land acquisition on the Indian side.
Official sources here said the DoNER ministry has sanctioned Rs 100 crore for land acquisition of 67 acres along the 5km line within Indian territory from Agartala station to Gangasagar station near the border. The Centre will reimburse the cost of land acquisition and other collateral expenses for the project.
“The office of the district magistrate, West Tripura, has already received Rs 100 crore to meet the expenses. The land has been identified and owners have been served notices,” said N.C. Das, additional deputy magistrate (West Tripura). He said “pillaring” of the land has been completed and the entire process is expected to be done by the end of March.
On the 5km stretch of the Indian territory there will be three stations – Matripalli, Siddhi Ashram and Mishchindipur – and the first station in Bangladesh will be Gangasagar.
“Of the 5km of railway line, 3.7km will be overhead across high bridges while the remaining portion will be on the ground. On completion of the land acquisition, it will be handed over to the NFR authorities and laying of tracks and related works like construction of small bridges, stations and crossings can be undertaken by the first week of April,” Das said.
A major parallel road will also be built alongside the 15km railway tracks up to Akhaura. NFR sources here said the viability of the railway connectivity up to Akhaura is still open to question as currently those travelling to Bangladesh cross overthrough the checkpost and then go by rickshaw to the railway junction at Akhaura to board trains for their journey.
“Whether people will give up the present advantage to go by rail is doubtful but the new connectivity will help us in transportation of goods from Bangladesh to Tripura via Gangasagar station,” said J.K. Roy, an authority on Tripura’s history.