Tetalia-Byrnihat Railway Line to be ready by March 2018: says Meghalaya Governor

New Broad Gauge Railway Line from Tetelia to Byrnihat (21.50 Km) as an alternative alignment to Azara-Byrnihat new line (National Project) was sanctioned by Ministry of Railways on 5.8.2010.

SHILLONG: Meghalaya Governor Banwarilal Purohit today said the work on Tetalia-Byrnihat railway line in Ri-Bhoi district of the state is in progress and is likely to be commissioned by March next year. “The work on Tetalia-Byrnihat railway line is in progress and is likely to be commissioned by March 2018,” he said while addressing the opening day of the Budget session of the Assembly. He said the state now figures on the prime railway map of the country with the commencement of the train service between Duhnoi-Mendipathar-Gauhati in the North Garo Hills District.

The Tetelia-Byrnihat railway project faced many hurdles with regard to availability of land for early completion of the project. There is delay in handing over the designated land to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) for the project. An official with the NFR said that work was going on in only those areas where they have got possession of the land. “We were not getting the whole stretch of land,” the NFR official, on the request of anonymity, said. According to the official, there is litigation over some government land in Assam; besides, they are yet to get clearance for a forest area of around 4 km in Assam. The 21.5-km Tetelia-Byrnihat rail line is scheduled to be completed at a cost of around Rs 400 crore.

In Meghalaya, the NFR is yet to get possession of the land belonging to a local MLA since he has not handed over the land to the NFR. The deadline for the Tetelia-Byrnihat is March 2018, but the official stated that they would be able to complete the project ahead of time if the land is handed over to the NFR at the earliest. Meanwhile, sources said that the survey work on the 108-km stretch of the proposed Shillong-Byrnihat railway project is going on smoothly with only five km left to be completed.

Reacting to a query, the official said NFR is contemplating to construct the Shillong railway station somewhere near the New Shillong Township and the Northeast Frontier Railway is contemplating to connect all the eight sister states in India’s North East by 2020 as the department has already started ‘Mission 2020’ which will be implemented strictly within the stipulated time-frame.

On the other hand, NGOs in Meghalaya are demanding for a comprehensive and effective mechanism for checking influx issue before the introduction of railway in the state. Earlier in December 2016, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) reiterated their opposition to the proposed rail link from Assam’s Tetelia to Byrnihat and then to Shillong. On the proposed railway link, the KSU said it would continue to oppose the projects from Tetelia-Byrnihat and Byrnihat-Shillong till a strong law is implemented to check unabated influx.

During Feb 2017, Minister of State for Railways (MOSR) Rajen Gohain cited an example of influx from Bangladesh in a Nagaland village “through marriage and not rail line”, dispelling fears that the railway projects would lead to influx in Meghalaya. The state was connected by rail after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 19.75 km Dudhnoi-Mendipathar rail line in November 2014 which linked Assam with Garo hills.  Commencement of Rail services in the region will not only empower the communities here both economically and socially, but also connect with the rest of the fast transforming world and importantly prosper the region in a bigger way.  The Railway line will also enable large scale employment, and the economical ecosystem will largely grow, he said.

Rajen Gohain, who is also a BJP MP from Assam where influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants has been an emotive issue said the influx can occur even in the absence of Railways. “Land of the people here (Meghalaya) is safe due to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and no outsider can buy land of the indigenous people in the state. Stopping such a big project (railways) for fear of influx is not right and all should understand it,” he added. He said he had discussed the issue of the proposed railway projects in Meghalaya with the state’s IT minister Ampareen Lyngdoh and she assured him of the state government’s cooperation.

Ministry of Railways sanctioned projects worth Rs 13,500 crore for North East, says Rajen Gohain, MOS (Rlys) at ConMac – a 3-day Conference and Exhibition on ‘Construction Equipment & Construction Technology’ at Guwahati

The Railways has sanctioned projects worth Rs 13,500 crore for the North East in this year’s budget, Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said on Friday. “Railway Ministry has big plans for the North East. Several new projects amounting to about Rs 13,500 crore have been sanctioned in this year’s budget including new lines, bridges and an elevated rail tract project from Kamakhya to New Guwahati at a cost of Rs 3,062 crore”, Gohain said on the second day of the infrastructure development conference ConMac here.

These steps would not only help to boost the infrastructure of this region but also generate employment for the youth through several spin-off industries, he said.

A bottled drinking water plant under the Rail Neer brand at Jagiroad in Assam and a high-end North East Safari Train was being envisaged, the minister added.

North East Council (NEC) member C K Das highlighted the infrastructural gaps in the region as compared to other regions of the country and spoke about the initiative of NEC for infrastructure development in the region.

North East Frontier Railway has identified the critical projects in the region and the progress over the last few years has been satisfactory, NF Railway’s General Manager (Construction) H K Jaggi said.