Five years later, no green light for India-Bangladesh rail project

Agartala (AGTL): The proposed India-Bangladesh railway connectivity project has yet to take off, five years after it was sanctioned. According to officials here, it’s not certain when work can start, since no funds have been allocated yet.

The Rs. 575-crore ($90 million) project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

“The central government is yet to provide required funds for the project. The land acquisition and subsequent works for the railway project connecting Tripura with Bangladesh would be delayed,” a top official of the Tripura government, who did not want to be named, told.

He said the state government had recently approached the railway ministry again to allocate funds. “No funds were allocated in the railway budget for 2015-16, even for land acquisition.

The cost of the project was earlier estimated at Rs.271 crore. In addition, Rs.302 crore are needed to acquire around 98 acres of land in India for laying the tracks.

A Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official said: “The work to lay the 15-km railway track to link Agartala with Bangladesh’s southeastern Akhaura city is yet to start although the two countries are very serious to execute the plan.”
State-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border with five kilometres falling in the Indian territory.

“The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh would boost the socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries,” Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey told reporters at the State Secretariat last week without elaborating when the funds for the project would be released. He said it would become cost-effective to ferry men and material between the two countries.

Tripura’s capital Agartala came on the country’s railway map in October 2008. At present, the distance between Agartala and Kolkata is 1,650 km which would get reduced to 650 km if a line is constructed through Bangladesh.

The NFR is the nodal agency to implement the new railway project, for which alignment of line and other technical details had been finalised by the officials of India and Bangladesh.

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