14 major railway projects planned in northeast


New Delhi : Most of the northeastern states would be connected by 2012 through 14 railway projects, including eight new ones, at a budget of Rs.100 billion, union Minister of Development of the North East Region Mani Shankar Aiyar said Tuesday.

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However, he said the projects would involve mobilisation of extra security personnel and equipment to guard against sabotage or disruption, which needed to be budgeted in advance to construct railway lines in security sensitive areas.

Addressing the sixth North-East Sectoral Summit on rail connectivity here, he sought to dispel the impression that the entire north-east was insecure, saying "90 percent of the north-east is safer than Delhi". He said some pockets are sensitive and care needed to be taken in advance.

"The financial requirements have been budgeted for. The railways have promised to make the necessary funds available. But what is needed is to budget for the mobilization of the security forces needed to guard the security sensitive areas through which the proposed railway lines will pass.

"So far the tendency is to seek extra security contingent only when a situation arises. As a result work is stalled for a long period whenever an incident takes place. Now one will budget in advance and specify the quality and quantum of security required and its financial implications, which will be computed and built into the overall budget of the project," explained Aiyar.

The conference discussed 14 railway lines for the north-east. Eight of them are new – Kumaraghat-Agartala; Jiribhum-Tupul; Dimapur-Zubza; Azra-Byrnihat; Dudhnoi-Deepa; Harmuti-Itanagar; Mahilaguri-Jogighopa and Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge.

Of these, five are national projects, including Kumaraghat-Agartala; Jiribhum-Tulpul; Dimapur-Zuzba; Azra-Byrnihat and the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge.

There are five other gauge conversion projects on the Lumding-Silchar railway line; including Rangiya-Murkongselek; Kathakal-Bairabi; Haibargaon-Mairabari and Senchoa Junction-Slighat Town. Of these the first two are again distinguished as national projects.