NITI Aayog issues Green Signal for Agartala-Akhaura Railway line project

New Delhi: The Ministry of Railway has finally agreed to fund the long-awaited Agartala-Akhaura project to connect Tripura and Bangladesh, said Tripura state Transport Secretary Mr.Samarjit Bhowmik today in a meeting at Guwahati. After the new government came to power, it was decided that the DoNER Ministry will fund the project, he added.

A high level meeting of NITI Aayog was held in New Delhi on June 18 in a bid to break the deadlock on the 15-km Agartala-Akhaura rail project along Tripura on the proposed India-Bangladesh railway project.  NITI Aayog officials presided over the meeting in which, the officials from the Ministries of Railways, Development of North Eastern Region and External Affairs and the Tripura government officials participated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina discussed the project during Modi’s official visit to Dhaka on June 6-7. The Rs.575-crore ($90 million) railway project was finalised in January 2010 during the Bangladesh prime minister’s meeting with then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

The 1,650-km distance between Agartala and Kolkata would be reduced to only 515 km once the rail track is constructed through Bangladesh.

The project cost was earlier estimated at Rs.271 crore. In addition, Rs.302 crore was needed to acquire around 98 acres of land in India for laying the tracks. Work to lay the 15-km railway track to link Tripura capital Agartala with Bangladesh’s southeastern Akhaura city is yet to start although the two countries are very serious about executing the project, a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official said.

State-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border, with five km falling in the Indian territory and the remaining in Bangladesh.

The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh will boost socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries, the transport minister said.

The NFR is the nodal agency for the project, for which alignment of rail line and other technical details were finalised by officials of both India and Bangladesh.