MEA pushes for prestigious Indo-Bangla Railway project

अगरतला Agartala (AGTL):  In a major boost to the proposed Indo-Bangla rail project in Tripura, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the Railway Ministry and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authorities to sanction Rs.302 Crore to DoNER (Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region) to begin land acquisition process for the dream project.

The directive came when MEA Joint Secretary Alok Sinha met officials of DoNER, Railway Ministry, NFR, IRCON and Tripura Government at a joint meeting held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The DoNER Ministry, which was supposed to handle the funds for the Agartala-Akhaura rail project under the Planning Commission awards, has backed out from taking responsibility to push the project.

“We have conducted survey of the proposed alignment in the Tripura part but could not take start land acquisition as no fund was sanctioned in the Railway Budget”, sources said adding that the survey report proposed a Rs 302 crore requisition to the Union Government.

IRCON, a Central sector PSU, was entrusted with the responsibility to handle all operations of construction of the railway lines between Akhaura and Agartala over a distance of 15 km – a project that would literally change the way bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh were defined.

Following MEA’s instruction, the Railway Minister would be sending a funding proposal by November 5 to the DoNER, Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik, who was present in the high level meeting in Delhi, said.

The Railway Ministry said that a road would be constructed along side the Indo-Bangla rail link connecting with the National Highway 44. The goods would be transported through highway trucks. A godown would be constructed at Charipara wherefrom the goods would be transported to the city.

Sources said the fourth meeting of the Agartala-Akhaura project steering committee is slated to be held at Dhaka by end of November this year.