Hailakandi (HKD): The Silchar-Lumding Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee and Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee of Tripura demanded immediate completion of the ongoing gauge conversion works of Lumding-Silchar, Arunachal-Jiribum, Badarpur-Kumarghat-Agartala and Silchar to Bairabi.
A two-member delegation comprising Sushil Paul of Silchar-Lumding Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee and Malin Deb Barman of Broad Gauge Rupayan Sangram Committee of Tripura met Union Minister of State for Railways Adhir Choudhury on Tuesday in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Union Railways Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge demanding early completion of the gauge conversion work.
Pointing out in the memorandum that the Silchar-Lumding gauge conversion national project was initiated by the Union Ministry of Railways in 1996-97 with a promise to complete it within 2010, the organisations expressed displeasure that hardly 60% of work has been completed after the lapse of 18 years.
In the meantime, many dates were announced with regards to the completion of the project.
The memorandum added that the entire northeastern region has remained backward even after 67 years of Independence; giving rise to a sense of neglect and thereby giving birth to a number of separatist and secessionist forces. For the inclusive growth of the region and to assuage the feeling of neglect among the people of the region it is of paramount importance to initiate developmental projects. The memorandum stressed the need of giving importance to the development of railways on a priority basis.
The organisations pointed out that the railway projects could soon become the lifeline for the States of Tripura, Mizoram, a part of Manipur and the three districts of Barak Valley. At present, the entire region is dependent on the dilapidated Jowai road which passes through Meghalaya.
There is a strong feeling among the people of this region that the 215-km-long Lumding-Badarpur BG line could not be completed even after the lapse of 18 years only due to the utter negligence of the Railways authorities.
The memorandum also hinted at the possible nexus of the transport lobby and high officials of railways causing the unexplainable delay in completion of the project. Reasons like insurgency problems, difficult hilly terrain, etc., are not at all tenable, as the 740-km-long Goa-Konkon railway project was completed within a period of seven-and-a-half years confronting much more difficult challenges compared to this project, the memorandum stated.
The memorandum also mentioned of a series of agitation from October to pressurize the Railways authorities to complete the Lumding-Badarpur section within the stipulated period. At the current pace of progress, it is highly unlikely that the project will be completed within the stipulated period.
The organisations also demanded early completion of other projects in the region, like the Bogibeel Bridge over River Brahmaputra, extension of broad gauge lines from Agartala to Sabroom, Silchar to Kolasib via Virengtee, Bairabi to Sareng, Guwahati to Burnihat, Rangapara to Arunachal Pradesh, etc. Works on all these projects are halted due to non-availability of funds.