NEFR kick starts railway work in Arunachal

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Itanagar, Oct 21 (UNI) The move to include Arunachal Pradesh in the railway map of the country started with the North East Frontier Railway (NEFR) raising the curtain on the Harmutty-Itanagar railway line.

The ambitious 22 km railway line, with 18 major and 20 minor bridges, at an estimated cost of Rs 91.80 crore, would be completed by 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his maiden visit to the state on January 31, had announced the project, saying that the new rail link between Itanagar and Harmuti in Lakhimpur district of Assam would reduce the travel time to destinations outside the state and provide more economical access.

Describing the yesterday's occasion as ''historic'', Papum Pare District Deputy Commissioner (DC) Bidol Tayeng exhorted NEFR Deputy Chief Engineer (Construction) S Kanujia and contractor Ananta Charan Nayak to expedite the work.

As the chanting of hymns, during the ''bhoomi puja'', reverberated in the natural surroundings overlooking Daria hills on one side and the ferocious Dikrong River flowing on the other side, the men and machines swung into action at Gumto, which is located around 28 km from Itanagar.

Though many organisations have opposed the project citing reasons that it would jeopardise the identity of the indigenous people, the state government, however, was able to convince the villagers on the developmental aspects and asked the railway authorities to pay adequate compensation to the land losers.

Mr Tayeng, who has been instrumental in paving the way for the project by convincing the villagers with the help of leaders, particularly PWD and UD Minister Nabam Tuki and local MLA Ngurang Pinch, said 2.6 km length of land has already been handed over to the railway authorities, while 3.5 km till Dikrong river would be handed over within few days after assessing the value of properties and land and payment of compensation.

The railway line will cross Dikrong River near the present bridge point, he said, adding that the main railway station at Itanagar will be located at Jullang.

A coordination meeting of the railway officials, contractor, local administration and villagers under the chairmanship of the DC would be conducted on October 22 to facilitate flawless work progress, Mr Tayeng added.

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