Efforts on to expand Railway Network to China border

GUWAHATI: With China already launching its mega One Belt One Road (OBOR) project to connect Asia and Africa and Beijing’s rapid efforts to develop infrastructure, including railway network in Tibet, which can have serious geo-strategic repercussions for India, efforts have gained momentum from New Delhi to expand the railway network to areas near the China border in Arunachal Pradesh.

Senior officials told that ‘Reconnaissance Engineering cum Traffic Surveys’ for a number of new lines to connect various places in Arunachal Pradesh are progressing at a fast pace and we are in much advanced stages in various milestones.

One such survey for construction of a new line to extend the linkage with Chittagong and Belonia, in order to connect with the Bangladesh railway network with that of India in Tripura, is also going ahead, in which 20 per cent progress has so far been achieved.

“The Indian government is taking China’s plan to expand its railway and road infrastructure very seriously. As compared to the efforts taken by Beijing on its side of the border, New Delhi’s efforts over the years have been considerably lackadaisical. Now that has changed and surveys are on at a fast pace to reconnoitre areas through which the railway network can be extended to the Chinese frontier in Arunachal Pradesh,” said a source.

Meanwhile, the Northeast Frontier Railway (Construction) is currently undertaking a total of 10 surveys, including eight Reconnaissance Engineering cum Traffic Surveys and two Final Location Surveys, in Arunachal Pradesh and for connecting certain places in Arunachal Pradesh from Assam.

The sections where the surveys for new lines are on include – from Dangari to Roing (60 km), Margherita-Deomali (31 km), Lekhapani-Kharsang (25 km), Lekhapani-Nampong-New Khamlang-Deban (75 km), Naharkatia-Deomali (20 km), Tinsukia (Longpatia)-Pasighat via Kanubari, Deomali, Lekhapani, Jairampur, Kharsang, Miao, Diyun, Tezu, Bhismaknagar, Roing and Dambuk (300 km), Doomdooma-Wakro via Simulguri, Namsai and Chowkham (96 km), Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai (227 km), Misamari (Bhalukpong)-Tenga-Tawang (378 km), and North Lakhimpur-Bame (Along)-Silapathar (249 km).

The rate of progress so far is between eight per cent to 19 per cent, said Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NF Railway.

Experts as well as railway officials observe that the expansion of railway network to the Chinese border and augmenting the railway connectivity with Bangladesh is not only sound from the strategic point of view, but it will also boost trade, commerce and investment in the Northeast.