Railway to city no show

Impossible to provide connectivity by 2024, says NFR on Amit Shah’s announcement

SHILLONG, Aug 4: Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim that all the capitals of the Northeastern states, including Shillong, will have railway connectivity by 2023-2024 has not found any takers in Meghalaya.
A Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official said it would be impossible to connect Shillong with railways within 2024.
“If the NFR is allowed to start work now, the Tetelia-Byrnihat line can be completed in one-and-a-half years,” he said.
The Tetelia-Byrnihat railway project was halted in 2017-18. The MDA government has not shown any interest in resuming work on the project.
The NFR official said work on the Assam portion of the track has been going on in full swing and the Meghalaya part of the work is unlikely to anytime soon.
“In Meghalaya, nobody says anything about resuming the project though we have been meeting the Chief Secretary and the Deputy Commissioners for permission to resume the work,” he said.
The Conrad K. Sangma government is not keen on touching the sensitive project as the state’s pressure groups are opposed to the railways until a comprehensive mechanism is in place to check influx.
The NFR had conducted a survey for the Byrnihat-Shillong railway line but it seems to have been put in the cold storage.
“We are waiting for permission from the Meghalaya government,” the official said.
He said the state government can allow at least goods train to come to Meghalaya for ease of procuring essentials.
“The government can issue guidelines to the railways to bring only goods train to Meghalaya until the demands of the NGOs are met,” the official said.
The NFR and the state government had agreed to construct an entry point at the proposed Byrnihat railway station similar to that in Mendipathar, Meghalaya’s only railway station that has an entry point.

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