From CK Nayak
NEW DELHI: The long-cherished dream of having a rail link connecting Meghalaya with the rest of the country is all set come true with Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Wednesday announcing that Dudhnoi -Mendipathar project will be completed by 2013.
Dudhnoi-Mendipathar (East Garo Hills district) is one of the 45 new projects to be completed in 2012-13, the Railway Minister said in his maiden Budget speech.
The Minister also announced that the survey work for the Lanka-Sutnga project would continue this year.
With this the first train may puff on into Mendipathar railway station as early as March next year. Construction of the 19.47km broad gauge railway line is under way at a cost of about Rs 150 crore. Rs 30 crore has been sanctioned in the Budget for the Lanka-Sutnga rail line. Railway Ministry sources said to begin with there will be a engineering-cum-traffic survey for the new line passing through Umkyrpong and Pala and work will start once the survey is completed.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Water Resources and Minority Affairs Vincent Pala welcomed the budget saying “For the first time Meghalaya got two railway projects in one go”. Pala had submitted a request for the project to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi who forwarded it to the Ministry for its inclusion.
Meghalaya government had recently handed over about 65.09 hectares of land to the NF Railways for the Mendipathar project. The original proposal (Dudhnoi to Depa) had to be abandoned following stiff opposition from local people. The railway track would cover areas such as Nalbari-Deuripara, Boromiapara, Chotomiapara, Mataranga, Manikganj, Horingkata, Bakenang-Tilapara and Mendipathar. The Lanaka-Sutunga project is aimed at exploiting the mineral wealth of Jaintia Hills. It would take the load off from the plying trucks laden with coal, cement and limestone at a much cheaper and faster rate.
Rail projects for N-E: The Northeast got some attention from the Railways Minister. The new lines to be completed in 2011-12 include Agartala-Udipur, Jirribam-Dholakhal. There are three new express trains Kamakshya-Lokmanya Tilak (weekly) , Kamakshya- Tezpur inter-city (daily) and Diburgarh-Kolkata (weekly). There are some electrification projects taken up in the region and New Bongaigaon station has been declared as adarsha (model) station.
Travel time to Northeastern states is set to reduce considerably with the Railway Minister proposing to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh, opening up a direct link between Kolkata to Tripura capital through the neighbouring country.