GUWAHATI, Nov 30 – The Assam government has called for declaring the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) as a zone dedicated for the North Eastern region as well as for a second railway bridge over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat and for an alternative rail link between the North East and rest of the country.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi handed over a memorandum in this regard to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s two-day visit to the state.
“There is a pressing need for strengthening the railway infrastructure and organization in the North East. Therefore, the NFR may be declared as zone dedicated for the North Eastern states with its headquarters in Guwahati to give a thrust to railway projects in our region,” Gogoi stated in the memorandum, which was also addressed to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, along with Modi.
NFR currently is responsible for parts of Bihar and West Bengal, besides the North East, and this has, in recent years, led to allegations about most of the resources being diverted to the two eastern states.
“At present, there is only one railway line linking Assam and the rest of the country... To ensure security of rail communications between the North East and the rest of the country, it is essential that there is an alternative railway link through this stretch,” the memorandum said, adding that the suspended work on the Maynaguri-Jogighopa section is resumed at the earliest so that the Coochbehar-Abhaypuri section can emerge as an alternative route.
Gogoi also stated that the Saraighat rail bridge is very old and needs to be augmented with another parallel bridge.
“While a parallel road bridge is under construction at Saraighat, it may be explored if a parallel rail bridge can also be provided there. Also, while there is a road bridge over the river Brahmaputra at Bhomoraguri near Tezpur, there is a need for a railway line from Silghat to Balipara via Tezpur with a railway bridge over the Brahmaputra,” he said in the memorandum.
He also raised the matter of the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge and called for faster completion of the project, which has already been delayed.
The Chief Minister also demanded completion of the gauge conversion work at the Tirap-Lekhapani line for efficient and economical access to the Lekhapani coal mines of the Coal India Limited.