India-Bangladesh railway project top priority: Manoj Sinha

Tripura: Minister of State for Railways Minister Manoj Sinha on Tuesday said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is directly supervising the new India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura.

“The India-Bangladesh railway project is in most priority list and the PMO is directly overseeing the much expected project,” Sinha told the reporters here.

“Already land acquisition for laying the track of Agartala-Akhaura railway project has been completed. Most likely the fund will be sanctioned in the coming fiscal,” he added.

Accompanied by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) General Manager H. K. Jaggi and other senior officials of railway ministry and IRCON (Indian Railway Construction Company), Sinha arrived here on Tuesday on a two-day visit to the northeastern state to supervise the ongoing railway projects in the Tripura and inaugurate the trial broad gauge passenger train.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway project was finalised in January 2010, when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her then Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the Rs.575-crore railway project with Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June last year.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway project is also in the consideration of the Trans-Asia Railway network connecting the South Asian nations with Europe through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq said an official of NFR, who also accompanied the minister.

“For the Trans-Asia network also this is under consideration as an alignment,” said Jaggi.

Earlier, the DoNER Ministry committed to provide funds to lay tracks on the Indian side. But recently, it categorically expressed its inability to give funds.

The NITI Aayog had decided in a meeting in Delhi on June 18 to put in place the vital railway project between India and Bangladesh by December 2017.

The 1,650-km distance between Agartala and Kolkata would be reduced to only 550 km once the new rail track is linked through Bangladesh.

The Indian government had announced it will bear the entire cost of the 15-km railway project. Of the 15 km, 5 km fall in the Indian territory and the remaining in Bangladesh.

The project’s cost was earlier estimated at Rs.271 crore. In addition, Rs.302 crore was needed to acquire around 97.6 acres of land in Tripura for laying the track.

But the latest alignment of the project in which the Indian side will be overhead has reduced the required land acquization to 72 acres. Hence, to acquire land, the requirement of funds has reduced to Rs.98 crore from Rs.302 crore.

The state-owned IRCON is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border.

Later the team also visited the Agartala ICP and seen the flag retread programme at the zero point between India and Bangladesh organised by the border guard of both the nations.

The Minister also distributed sweets among the border guards.