India to survey new rail line with Bangladesh
Agartala, March 23: New Delhi will carry out a survey to lay one more new railway line between India and Bangladesh to access the Chittagong international sea port and ease connectivity with the landlocked northeast region, a minister said here on Thursday.
"Indian railway would soon conduct a survey to obtain basic details to lay a 125-km new railway line from southern Tripura's border town Belonia to Chittagong international sea port in (southeast) Bangladesh," Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told reporters.
"Of the 125-km line, five km falls in India and the rest in Bangladesh. The proposed railway line via (Bangladesh's) Feni town aims to access the Chittagong international sea port for the benefit of the mountainous northeast India," Gohain said.
After meeting Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the minister said New Delhi is now in consultation with Bangladesh to finalise the modalities of the survey.
The Belonia-Chittagong proposed railway line would be the second railway project in northeast India connecting Bangladesh after the Agartala-Akhaura railway line.
The minister, who came here on Wednesday and visited various under-construction railway projects in Tripura, said the actual work for the 15-km-long Agartala-Akhaura railway line would start from May this year and would be completed within 30 months.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Bangladesh Rail Minister Majibul Haque jointly laid the foundation stone here on July 31 last year for the Rs 973-crore Agartala-Akhaura railway project.
Gohain said the government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company would lay he 5-km railway track on the Indian side (in Tripura) while the remaining 10 km on the Bangladesh side would be laid by the Bangladesh railway.
However, IRCON would be project management consultant of the Bangladesh railway board.
The minister said the 1,613-km mountainous distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Guwahati-New Jalpaiguri-Kishanganj (Bihar)-Malda would be reduced to 514 km through Bangladesh once the Agartala-Akhaura rail track is established.
Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.
According to the official, 123.5 acres of land, including 56.5 acres in India, will be acquired to execute the project to facilitate carriage of goods to and from both countries.
The Agartala-Akhaura railway project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and provide a much shorter connectivity from northeastern states to Kolkata via Bangladesh.
The Indian government would bear the entire expenditure of the project, which also figured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June 2015.
Northeast Frontier Railway General Manager (Construction) H.K. Jaggi said the Development of North Eastern Region Ministry has released funds to the Tripura government to acquire land in Tripura and the land acquisition would be completed by April.
"The land acquisition would also be completed in Bangladesh by July this year," said Jaggi, who accompanied the minister.
The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.