Rail contractors to stay away from NC Hills till normalcy returns

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Guwahati, May 24 (UNI) Railway's gauge conversion work in Assam's trouble torn North Cachar Hills district would not be resumed till normalcy was restored, railway contractors forum said here today.

The situation in NC Hills section was not conducive to work and unless normalcy in respect of law and order was restored by the state government, work will not be resumed in the said section, the Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway Construction Contractor's Association (NFRCCA) said.

The members informed that the decision was taken at a meeting with the NF Railway General Manager, Construction, here yesterday.

Conceding that they had problems with ultras in the past also, they said the situation had gone out of hand this time and they won't return to work unless complete security was provided and militants were brought under control.

Besides the railway and national highway contractors, NEEPCO and cement manufacturers were regularly slapped with extortion notices by the ultras and their employees targetted.

All railway stations were closed and gauge conversion work, besides national highway construction, was stopped in NC Hills after Dimasa militants killed at least 25 people, including railway and construction employees, last week.

The gauge conversion work, which started in 1997 after being included in the Union Budget in 1996-97, covers total length of 368 km at an estimated project cost of Rs 1676.31 crore. Altogether Rs 1180.75 crore had been spent up to March, with expected project completion target set in 2010.

Of the total length, 117.82 km in the Badarpur-Kumarghat section has been complete, while about 70 per cent was completed of 49.61 km in Arunachal-Jiribam section, less than 50 per cent has been done of 201 km in the Lumding-Silchar section.

UNI SG KK SY KP1705

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