Railways to form JV with Meghalaya to develop Rail Network in the State: MOSR Rajen Gohain

As on date, 16 States in the country have entered into JV with Indian Railways to jointly speed up rail projects. Many JV Cos are being established – nearly a dozen proposals were received at MOCA for approvals.

SHILLONG: Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain today said that talks are on with the Meghalaya government so that Railways development works are accelerated in the State.

Reacting to queries regarding opposition in certain quarters fearing influx due to rail network, Gohain said talks are being held regularly between the ministry and the State government on this issue. Two projects have been proposed in the State by the Railways – the 22-km Tetelia-Byrnihat tracks and the 108-km Byrnihat-Shillong line.

However, these projects have faced roadblocks from the Khasi Students’ Union, Gohain has informed the Parliament recently.

The Tetelia-Byrnihat project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 496 crore. Till March last year, Rs 235 crore was incurred on the project that included earthwork, building bridges and tunnels. An allocation of Rs 150 crore had been made in 2015-16 and Rs 160 crore for 2016-17. Proposal of Rs 5,308 crore has been made to complete the Byrnihat-Shillong track. Survey work for 104 out of the 108 km of the project has been completed. An expenditure of Rs 21 crore was incurred on the project till March last year and an outlay of Rs 300 crore was provided for 2016-17.

However, due to opposition, work is not proceeding at the required pace. The KSU is opposing the railway line in Khasi-Jaintia Hills apprehending influx. Gohain said he has today spoken on the issue to Ampareen Lyngdoh, a senior Cabinet Minister in the State government, who has assured of all possible cooperation in this regard.

“We want the State government to complete the process of land acquisition for the projects to move ahead… We shouldn’t stop development, as the Northeast has to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of infrastructure development,” Gohain said.

Gohain said that Meghalaya is a Sixth Scheduled State and people cannot settle here permanently. “Tourists are coming everyday; this is not influx,” he added.

Citing the example of a village in Nagaland where “Bangladeshis” have entered into matrimonial alliances with the locals, Gohain said, under such circumstances things could be different.

Meghalaya’s only railway line connects Dudnoi in Assam with Mendipathar in North Garo Hills. The 19.75km-long line was inaugurated in November 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On budgetary allocation towards railway projects in the Northeast, he said that an annual outlay of Rs 15,000 crore was proposed for the region in this year’s budget.

“Survey work for the Chaparmukh (Assam) to Jowai (Jaintia Hills) line is going on. There are also other projects, such as connecting the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the country,” he added.