Saturday, July 20, 2024
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NE rail connectivity to get a boost via B’desh, Nepal

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From CK Nayak

New Delhi, June 20: The Centre is going ahead with new railway lines connecting the states in the Northeast via Nepal and Bangladesh, avoiding the Siliguri corridor, also known as the ‘Chicken’s Neck’.
The Railway Board has sanctioned a Final Location Survey. Altogether 14 new rail routes and alternative routes have been sanctioned for this purpose, official sources said here.
On the route via Bangladesh, around 500 km of new railway lines have been ordered. Gauge conversion here will be performed for 367 km. On the route via Nepal, over 200 km of new railway lines will be laid. Another 212 km of lines will be laid in the Northeast, the sources further said.
Nepal and Bangladesh are two friendly nations for India. Their Prime Ministers attended Narendra Modi’s swearing-in last week.
China, which often opposes India’s development activities in Arunachal Pradesh, shares a border with Nepal and it remains to be seen how Beijing reacts to the Indian railway line passing through the Himalayan country.
The proposed rail route will enter Bangladesh from Hilli before moving through Ghoraghat, Gaibandha (Bangladesh) and Palasbari in Assam. Ultimately, it will cross the Brahmaputra and reach Tura in Meghalaya.
Nepal and Bangladesh lie on each side of the Siliguri corridor which is 60 km long and 22 km wide. Bhutan lies at the northern end of the corridor.
The new railway link will be a means of improving the India-Bangladesh relations. As and when it becomes operational, it will lead to better people-to-people ties and boost businesses on both sides.
Currently, the railway line in Meghalaya straddles just 9.49 km. It connects the North Garo Hills.
The Centre’s efforts to introduce railways in the eastern and the northern parts of Meghalaya have been met with stiff opposition from pressure groups as well as some political parties. They fear that the introduction of the railway will only lead to the influx of illegal immigrants.
The anti-railway groups demand the implementation of inner line permit or a similar mechanism first before bringing any railway projects to the state.

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