Agartala-Badarpur BG dream hits Green hurdle

Child Labourers work on the railway tracks on the outskirts of Agartala on Tuesday last week
Child Labourers work on the railway tracks on the outskirts of Agartala on Tuesday last week

Agartala: Efforts to establish broad-gauge rail connectivity between Agartala and Badarpur in Barak Valley maybe thrown off schedule owing to delays by the Union ministry of environment and forests in providing environmental clearance to lay tracks.

The stretch in question is part of Trishna wildlife sanctuary in South Tripura’s Belonia subdivision, which will delay work till Sabroom.

Expressing concern over the issue, the chief engineer (construction) of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), Harpal Singh, said unless the environmental clearance is given by the end of October, the project would not be able to meet its deadline of March 31, 2016.

“Permission for laying broad-gauge tracks through Trishna wildlife sanctuary had already been granted on July 31 by the Union ministry of forests but environmental clearance, without which work cannot start, has still not come,” Singh said.

Singh and other senior NFR officials held discussions with revenue minister Badal Chowdhury and transport minister Manik Dey and apprised them of the situation. They also requested the ministers to take up the issue with the Union ministry of environment and forests.

“Our target is to complete broad-gauge connectivity between Udaipur in Gomati district and Sabroom in South Tripura district by March 2018. But unless environmental clearance is given within October, the work will be postponed for one more year, which we do not want,” said Singh.

He said metre-gauge connectivity between Agartala and Udaipur already exists but new tracks of around 46km must be laid through forest areas, including Trishna wildlife sanctuary, to reach Sabroom, Tripura’s southernmost subdivision bordering the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

Singh said NFR is also facing a problem in converting existing metre-gauge tracks into broad-gauge tracks over a stretch of around 800m in Teliamura subdivision because locals are demanding an overbridge for pedestrians.

By March 31, 2016, broad-gauge connectivity to Udaipur, headquarters of South Tripura district, will be complete, Singh added.

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