As per Vision Document 2020, Government has planned to connect all State Capitals of North Eastern States by 2020 except Sikkim in which case, new line work has been sanctioned up to Rangpo in first phase. The capitals of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura States have been connected by Broad Gauge (BG) rail network.
Great emphasis has been given by Central Government during last 5 years towards quick execution of infrastructure and safety projects and funding to the infrastructure projects has increased considerably. The average annual expenditure in New Line / Gauge Conversion / Doubling infrastructure projects during 2014-19 was Rs. 25,894 crore per year as against Rs. 11,527 crore per year during 2009-14 which is around 125% more than during 2009-14.The average allotment per year for North Eastern States was Rs.2,121 crore per year from 2009-14.However, it increased 161% to Rs. 5,531 crore per year for this region during 2014-19.
In Arunachal Pradesh, a BG railway line was commissioned in February, 2015 upto Naharlagun (suburban city of Itanagar) and first Broad Gauge (BG) train was flagged by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 20.02.2015 from Naharlagun (Itanagar) to New Delhi. Long pending and delayed work of Bogibeel Bridge on Brahmaputra river was completed in 2018 leading to further reduction of travel distance from Dibrugarh to Naharlagun (Itanagar) by 705 km (via Guwahati).
First BG trial train to the State of Tripura (Agartala) was received by Hon’ble Minister of State of Railways on 13.01.2016 and first BG passenger train (long distance) was introduced to Delhi on 31.07.2016.
In some States, the progress of new line projects of Capital connectivity has been affected mainly due to delay in land acquisition and law & order issues. All these Capital connectivity projects being in hilly terrain of Himalayas involve large number of tunnels and major bridges including very tall bridges in a very challenging geological environment.
Works of new BG lines have been taken up by Railway by its own fund to connect the remaining Capitals of North Eastern States i.e. Meghalaya (Shillong), Manipur (Imphal), Nagaland (Kohima), Mizoram (Aizawl) and Sikkim (Gangtok). Details with present status of these projects are as under:
(1) Manipur: The project of BG line connectivity from Jiribam to Imphal (110.62 km) in Manipur State was sanctioned in 2003-04. The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs. 13,809 crore and expenditure of Rs.6,969.49 crore has been incurred on the project upto 31.03.2019.
The section from Jiribam to Vangaichungpao (12 km) was commissioned in March, 2017 and works from Vangaichungpao-Tupul-Imphal (98.62 km) have been taken up throughout the length.The work of land acquisition has been completed in 102.62 km length of the project and work of acquisition of balance land of 8 km length has been taken up. Target date for completionis 3 years after complete land is handed over to the Railways.
(2)Mizoram:The project of BG line connectivity from Bhairabi to Sairang (51.38 km) (suburban city of Aizawl, the Capital city of Mizoram) in Mizoram was sanctioned in 2008-09.The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs.4,968 crore and the land could be made available in 2014-15 and work speeded up from 2015-16 & the expenditure of Rs.1,958.09 crore has been incurred on the project upto 31.03.2019.
The construction work has been taken up throughout the length of project and 80% tunneling work has been completed and the work on 6 tall bridges has been taken up.For complete commissioning of the project, the work of acquisition of balance 53.90 Hectare of land has been taken up.Target date for completion for complete project is 2 years after complete land is handed over to Railways.
(3) Nagaland: The project of BG line connectivity from Dimapur (Dhansiri) -Zubza (Kohima) (82.50 km) (suburban city of Kohima, the Capital city of Nagaland) in Nagaland was sanctioned in 2006-07.The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs. 3,000 crore and the work speeded up from September, 2018 and the expenditure of Rs.626.67 crore has been incurred on the project upto 31.03.2019.
The construction work has been taken up throughout the length of project.For complete commission of the project, the work of acquiring balance land in 6 km length has been taken up (ownership disputes).Target date for completionfor complete project is 3 years after complete land is handed over to Railways.
(4) Meghalaya:Two projects of BG line have been taken up for Capital connectivity of Meghalaya.
(i)New BG line from Tetelia – Byrnihat (21.50 km) in Meghalaya was sanctioned in 2006-07. The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs.1,532 crore and the work speeded up from 2014-15, 10 km length of the project falling in Assam State from Tetelia to Kamalajari got completed in October, 2018 and expenditure of Rs. 515.82 crore has been incurred upto 31.03.2019.Some organizations are stating that railway connectivity may lead to influx of outsiders and this has led to some local resistance to this project.Now, the issue has been taken up for early resolution. Target date for completion not fixed, as the same would be decided, once the complete land is physically handed over to Railways.
(ii)New BG line from Byrnihat to Shillong (108.40 km) was sanctioned in 2010-11.The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs.6,000 crore and the expenditure of Rs.252.68 crore has been incurred on the project upto 31.03.2019.Target date for completion not fixed, as the same would be decided, once the land is physically handed over to Railways.
(5)Sikkim:The project of BG line connectivity from Sivok to Rangpo (44.39 km) was sanctioned in 2008-09.The latest anticipated cost of the project is Rs.4,085.69 crore and the expenditure of Rs.554.46 crore has been incurred on the project upto 31.03.2019.
However, the project is suffering for a long time as the Government of West Bengal has not given encumbrance free land (77.78 Hectare forest land after cutting of trees) to Railway due to which, even the timely finalization of tenders is getting affected.The issue is being consistently chased with Government of West Bengal.Target date for completion for complete project is 3 years after complete physical possession of land given to Railways.