Indian Railway is likely to spend almost Rs 90,000 crore to improve connectivity in the northeast by 2020, including a 795-km railway line in Arunachal Pradesh that will provide accessibility right up to the China border, and connections between the capitals of all northeastern states.
While Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura are connected by rail, the capitals of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim and Nagaland are not. Of these, Mizoram capital Aizawl is likely to be connected first with the new line between Bhairabi and Sairang (51.38km) in advanced stage of construction.
“Sairang is approximately 18 km from Aizawl. We have no presence in Sikkim so far and to provide connectivity to Gangtok, work up to Rangpo has been sanctioned. Rangpo is around 40km short of Gangtok and work between Gangtok and Rangpo will be taken up in phase two,” said AK Yadav, chief construction officer in the north frontier railway. Indian Railways is waiting for a clearance for some of the other lines.
Progress in the Byrnihat-Shillong corridor in Meghalaya was affected due to opposition from the Khasi Student Union. The railway is yet to receive a no objection certificate for land acquisition, which has not been given so far by Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.
In Sikkim, Indian Railways is awaiting clearance from the forest department but is hopeful of completing all the projects by 2020.
On the international front, close to China border, Railways has undertaken final land survey of three different lines and will submit the report to the Ministry of Defence.
“Owing to long international border, northeast region has huge requirement for providing railway network from strategic considerations. MoD has identified 14 projects across the country of which four were selected as priority corridors. Except for Pathankot-Leh, the other three projects fall in the northeast region,” Yadav added.