Nagaland railway project in limbo

New Delhi, March 23: Two of the 10 national projects of the railways in the Northeast are stuck, one of them because of “exorbitant” rates demanded by landowners.

The 88km Dimapur-Kohima (Zubza) project in Nagaland is stuck despite a final location survey of the entire length being completed, the railways minister said in Parliament on Friday. The 52.7km Sivok-Rangpo line in Sikkim is held up for want of environmental clearance.

“(The) Project (in Nagaland is) held up for want of approval of alignment by the state government and exorbitant land rates,” minister of state for railways, Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, said in the Rajya Sabha to an unstarred question from AGP MP Kumar Deepak Das.

As work is stuck, no date has been fixed for completion of the Rs 850-crore railway project. As a result, Nagaland will lag behind other states in railway connectivity.

Targets have been fixed for 2015 for the other national projects ‘ Agartala-Sabroom (Tripura), Teteliya-Byrnihat (Meghalaya), Bhairabi-Sairang (Mizoram), Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal (Manipur) and the Rs 3,230-crore Bogibeel bridge. Completion targets have also been set for the Rs 4,255-crore Lumding-Silchar line (March 2015) and the Rs 1,717-crore Rangiya-Murkongselek (2014) guage conversion projects.

Although deadlines for most projects have been pushed back over the years, outlays reflect that work will progress on the national projects in the next fiscal. However, the project in Nagaland is stuck because of the failure of the state government to convince land owners, mainly in Dimapur and Chumukedima to acquire land for the railway line at reasonable rates. A similar problem has also caused the Mizoram project to be delayed. Work on another project, the Byrnihat-Shillong line was stopped in November 2010 because of opposition from the Khasi Students Union.

Railway budget outlays for 2013-14 reflects the progress on these projects. The government proposed Rs140 crore as outlay for the Tripura project, Rs 50 crore for Meghalaya, Rs 77 crore for Mizoram project, Rs 340 crore for the Bogibeel bridge. An outlay of Rs 453.9 crore is proposed for the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal project set for completion in a phased manner by March 2017.

The outlay for the projects in Nagaland and from Byrnihat to Shillong is a mere Rs 1 crore each.