GUWAHATI, Aug 21 - Lambasting the Central government and the Railway Board over their failure to speed up the double-tracking projects in the State, the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has said that delay in execution of the same in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section will mean that the actual benefits of the Bogibeel Bridge will not soon be received by the State in general and its people in particular.
Dipankar Sharma, ARPA secretary, said that though utilisation percentage of the main rail lines in Assam has reached as high as 170 per cent, no step has been taken by the Centre to undertake double-tracking works, while similar projects have been sanctioned in states like Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, even when tracks in those places have only a utilisation percentage of around 100-110 per cent.
“In the 2013 Railway Budget, sanction was given for doubling of tracks in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section, but since then the files have been lying with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). This is the main rail line of our State and officially its utility was mentioned as being 167 per cent six months ago,” he said.
Sharma added, “While people of our State are being made to wait for CCEA nod for so many years, earlier this year, sanction was given for doubling of tracks at some sections in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where the utilisation of tracks is currently only around 100-110 per cent. This shows that despite tall claims and promises, the NDA regime has not done anything to remove infrastructure bottlenecks in the railway sector in Assam and the Northeast.”
He rued that despite the Minister of State for Railways hailing from Assam, the State in particular and the Northeastern region in general have not been able to reap the benefits in actual terms as far as the development of railway infrastructure is concerned.
“Even our State government and the MPs elected from Assam are mum on such sensitive issues. Our Chief Minister visits New Delhi at least twice a week but he never bothers to raise such issues of vital economic, infrastructural as well as strategic importance with the Centre,” said the ARPA secretary.
Sharma said such discriminatory attitude by New Delhi is what forces the people of Assam to resort to agitations.