Traders, residents benefit from railway

A visit to Mendipathar rail station reveals people have no fear of influx

SHILLONG: At a time when the Byrnihat-Shillong railway project is facing opposition due to the fear of influx, the people from Garo Hills who travel by train from Mendipathar to Guwahati have no such apprehensions.
The KSU has already stopped the survey and investigation for the proposed 108-km Byrnihat-Shillong railway project and the KHADC is yet to issue NOC stating that the entry and the exit points should be set up first to check influx.
Moreover, some portions of land are yet to be acquired for Tetelia-Byrnihat railway project though a major portion of the land is in the possession of Northeast Frontier Railway.
But a visit to Mendipathar railway station in North Garo Hills last Tuesday on the occasion of the second anniversary of the arrival of trains to the State revealed a contrasting picture.
The railway staff and the commuters at Mendipathar – the rail head here was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 29, 2014 – said it has helped the people of the area in many ways.
Local farmers and vendors carry vegetables and other items from Garo Hills to Guwahati paying only Rs 30 as fare. They return to Mendipathar in the evening after selling their produces in Guwahati markets.
Besides, a portion of the platform is used by local vendors who sell vegetables and tea since 6 am.
Take the case of Stance Sangma and Lechna Marak. They buy vegetables from the vendors at the railway station, take the train to Guwahati and sell the same at a higher price there. They get a marginal profit for the vegetables.
Many people who have work in Guwahati also use the same mode of transport.
Former deputy chief minister Timothy D. Shira, who regularly travels by the Mendipathar train, said this has benefitted the people a lot. “Unlike travelling in buses and other means of transport, which are tiring, the train provides us a comfortable journey at a cheaper fare,” Shira said and added that a person has to spend at least Rs 120 to reach Guwahati if he uses other means of transport.
The train ranging from ten to twelve coaches with 72 seats each leaves Mendipathar at 7 am daily and reaches Guwahati at 11 am and the same train leaves Guwahati at 4.20 pm on the same day to reaches Mendipathar at 8.30 pm covering 130 km.
The train, which has 20 stops, halts for more than 30 minutes at Dudhnoi for changing engine and also to facilitate crossing of other trains.
The number of rail passengers who travel on this route is below 100, but the railway employees say if there is a direct train to Delhi, the flow of passengers will increase.
There is a plan to extend the railway service to Tura, which will also increase the flow of passengers.
Prakash Kumar, who is in charge of Mendipathar railway station, said there was no law and order problems in running the train despite the insurgency in Garo Hills. Moreover, there was not a single case of accidents on the route in the last two years.
Both Kumar and North Garo Hills DC SC Sadhu agree that there were no instances of influx after the train was made operational.
When asked about the problem of influx, the passengers who were in the train said more people from outside are coming to Garo Hills through other means of transport.

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