Barak NGO demands substitute rail link

Silchar-Lumding BG Rupayan Sangram Committee members stage a protest at Badarpur on Wednesday
Silchar-Lumding BG Rupayan Sangram Committee members stage a protest at Badarpur on Wednesday

Silchar: The Silchar-Lumding Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee on Saturday staged a dharna at Silchar railway station to demand construction of a substitute rail link between Chandranathpur station and Lanka in the state.

Hundreds of members of the committee joined the agitation.

The demand for an alternative rail route was raised keeping in view the poor condition of the Lumding-Silchar section of the Northeast Frontier Railway. The 210-km-long stretch, which runs through the hills of Dima Hasao district, is prone to frequent landslides during the monsoon. As a result, train services remain suspended for days at a stretch.

The committee sought a substitute rail link through the plains of Cachar and Nagaon districts to ensure uninterrupted connectivity between Guwahati and Barak Valley, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur.

“The proposal for an alternate route was made earlier. Now it’s time to act on the proposal,” said Ajoy Roy, a convener of the committee.

In a memorandum to PM Narendra Modi, the committee also demanded an investigation into the geo-technical failures of the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project.

The first passenger train on the converted broad gauge route ran in November last year. As rains hit the region, the route fell prey to landslides.

People from all walks of life today demanded a high-level probe into the Silchar-Lumding broad-gauge project in view of the existing uncertainty over the resumption of train services.

Passenger train service along the Silchar-Lumding route, which was inaugurated last year, has been stalled since May 16 after a portion of the tracks got damaged at Maigrendisa in Dima Hasao district because of heavy rain and landslides.

Members of different organisations under the banner of Silchar-Lumding Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee today organised a protest in front of Silchar railway station, demanding a high-level probe into the construction.

Ajoy Roy, convener of the committee, said if pre-monsoon showers could cause serious damage to the tracks, the situation was likely to turn worse when the monsoon reaches its peak.

“There is every reason to infer that it is not only the geo-technical reason but also poor construction which is responsible for the massive damage. We are sure a geo-technical survey was conducted before laying the tracks. The question now arises whether the survey was actually done and if the NFR had paid attention to it,” he said.

Roy said crores of rupees were spent to construct the Silchar-Lumding broad-gauge line but it went out of service within six months of the launch of passenger trains.

It was reportedly learnt on June 23, 2016 that the NFR had decided to construct a diversion line at Maigrendisa to reconnect Silchar with Lumding. The move came after it failed to repair the damaged tracks in front of tunnel 8 at Maigrendisa despite repeated attempts for more than a month.

The committee today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps to implement the proposed Chandranathpur-Lanka broad-gauge project to connect Silchar with Lumding.

“In view of the tricky geological conditions and hilly terrain along Silchar-Lumding, a new alternative route has become the need of the hour. The NFR had submitted a detailed project report to the railway ministry three decades ago to lay broad gauge tracks from Chandranathpur to Lanka. The project was sanctioned but work has not yet been started,” said Arunangshu Bhattacharjee, a committee member.

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