The railways has set a target of completing by 2019 the final location surveys of three strategic lines along the country’s border with China after the projects received the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) nod in December 2015, officials said today. The railways has received Rs 47.18 crore from the Defence Ministry for the final location survey (FLS) of the 378-km Missamari-Tenga-Tawang line, the 227-km Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line and the 249-km North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar line after the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to take them up for construction on priority.
“We have set a target of December 2018 for the FLS for Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line and December 2019 as the deadline for the other two. These three are extremely difficult terrains and we have to deal with unstable and high mountains. In places such as the Sela Pass in the Missamari-Tenga-Tawang line, it is 14,000 feet high,” said A K Yadav, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
He added that the field survey for the Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line in the plains was in advanced stages, but for the other two projects which are on difficult hilly terrain, terms of reference have been finalised after preliminary investigations. The Missasamari-Tenga-Tawang line, which Yadav said was the most treacherous of all, will be the most expensive at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore and will consist of 80 per cent tunnels. The cost of its location survey has been pegged at Rs 100.73 crore. The FLS of the other two collectively is at an estimated Rs 87.5 crore.
“We want the line to be operational through the year, despite the snow,” said Yadav, adding that the three line are of 853 km with 58 km in Assam and 795 km in Arunachal Pradesh.
For the fourth line also approved by the CCS, the 498-km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, the final location survey at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir began last year.
At a height of 3,300 metres, the 498-km long stretch is set to become the highest rail track in the world, overtaking China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
The preliminary estimate of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for construction of the four strategic railway lines was provided by the railways, and a Steering Committee under the Secretary (Expenditure) in the Ministry of Finance was formed to look for ways to finance the construction. These four ‘priority’ lines are part of the 14 strategic lines which were identified for development in November 2010, among the 28 railway lines in the China and Pakistan border areas approved ‘in principle’ by the Defence Minister in January 2010.