Agartala, Oct 28 (IANS) Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain on Saturday gave two versions about the railway’s target for linking the remaining northeastern state capitals by railway network.
The Minister while addressing a function to flag off the Agartala-Delhi Rajdhani Express said that all the remaining state capitals of the northeastern states will be connected with railway network by 2019.
However, after the event, speaking to reporters on the sidelines, he gave a different date.
“All the capitals of the remaining northeastern states will be linked with Broad Gauge railway network by 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given priority for the infrastructure development of the northeastern states,” Gohain said before flagging-off the Rajdhani Express between Agartala and Delhi’s Anand Vihar station.
Later, while speaking to the media after the function, he said that after the Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh capital cities, Manipur capital Imphal would be connected by railway network by 2022.
“Due to land related problems, the expansion of railway network in Sikkim and Meghalaya has turned into a non-starter. Work is on to increase the railway network in Mizoram and Nagaland,” he said, without providing any target to link the state capitals of the two states.
Earlier, the railway authorities and ministers had announced on a number of occasions that all state capitals of northeast India would be linked with broad gauge railway track by 2020.
With the extension of the metre gauge track up to Agartala through southern Assam, Tripura became the first state capital in the northeast in October 2008 to be brought on India’s rail map after independence. Subsequently, the metre gauge line was converted into broad gauge.
Arunachal Pradesh’s Itanagar was put on the railway map of India in April 2014.
“For expansion of railway networks in the northeastern states, there is no dearth of funds. The present NDA government has asked the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) to speedup the works of the ongoing railway projects in the northeast,” the Minister added.
Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy along with PWD and Revenue Minister Badal Choudhury, Transport Minister Manik Dey, two CPI-M MPs Jitendra Choudhury and Sankar Prasad Datta, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Dilip Sarkar and NFR General Manager Chahatey Ram spoke at the event.
Tripura ministers and MPs have demanded a railway division and a railway recruitment board in Tripura and to shift the Rajdhani Express’ destination to New Delhi Railway Station instead of Anand Vihar.
“Due to huge congestion in New Delhi Railway Station, the trains going from eastern India are stationed at Anand Vihar station and those coming from southern India are placed at Hazrat Nizamuddin station,” Chahatey Ram told the media, responding to the Tripura demand.
“The size and railway network in Tripura does not permit setting up a separate railway division in the state,” the Minister told reporters.
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