GUWAHATI: The feasibility study for five rail links between the bordering towns of India and Bhutan, conducted by the Railways, has reached an advanced stage.
According to senior Northeast Frontier Railway (Construction) officials, the progress of the survey in all the five links is over 50 per cent as at the end of last month.
“The study is going on at a steady pace, considering the terrain and the fact that it will involve two sovereign nations. This year’s Railway Budget made special provision considering cost updating for the survey which was initially sanctioned in 2007,” an official said.
The proposed links will have an approximate total length of 198 km. Of the five proposed lines, two will connect West Bengal with Bhutan and the rest three will be between Assam and Bhutan.
The lines are Banarhat (West Bengal)-Samtse (Bhutan) with a proposed length of 23.15 km, Hasimara (West Bengal)-Phuentsholing (Bhutan) of 17.51 km, Kokrajhar-Gelephu of 57.7 km, Pathsala-Nganglam of 51.15 km and Rangia-Samdrup Jongkhar of 48.04 km.
“The survey has to take into account various factors including alignment of the proposed lines, feasibility and prospects for land acquisition, economics of the areas through which the lines will pass including viability of such links and so on. Besides, it involves detailed discussions with the state governments concerned,” the official said.
Another senior Railway official said that, if sanctioned, the link between the border towns of the two countries could give a massive boost to bilateral trade and the local economy.
“It will also act a precursor to similar rail links between India and the South-East Asian nations,” he said.
Once the feasibility survey is over, reports are sent to the Railway Board for sanction and the Railway Ministry enters the picture along with the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Railways.