NEW DELHI, May 13 – Lamenting poor train services in the region, MPs describing the North East Frontier Railways, as the ‘North East Forgotten Railways’ called for better connectivity and expeditious completion of pending national projects.
Participating in the discussion on the Railway Appropriation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Pankaj Bora said: “ours is not the ‘North-East Frontier Railways’, but ‘The North-East Forgotten Railways’!
There was a proposal by the Railway Ministry to connect all the capital towns of the North East, but, still, it is in a conceptual stage, he stated.
It is not because we want to travel somewhere, but our people have to travel to Mumbai and Chennai, and also to Delhi because of medical reasons. We do not get reservation directly from Dibrugarh, Guwahati, to Delhi,” he said.
Urging the Railway Ministry to give more stress on rail connectivity in the North East, Bora said that the Northeastern region needs faster trains and electrification. “We do not have a single kilometer of electric train in Assam or the North East,” he lamented.
“Coaches are in an absolutely dilapidated condition. We do not have Express Trains. At least 75 new Express trains were announced in the Budget but the eight States in the North East, have been provided only three,” he said.
Besides, 84 proposals have been sent to the Planning Commission for appraisal, but only six proposals are for the North East.
Bora suggested that Duronto trains should be introduced from Guwahati to Mumbai via Kolkata and another from Guwahati to Chennai.” He said the State Government has demanded North-East Frontier Railways, for all administrative purposes, be declared ‘Dedicated Railways for the North-East Frontier.’
Joining the discussion, Biren Baishya said the Indian Railways is the lifeline of India but, the role of the Indian Railways towards the Northeastern region is nothing but the story of negligence, nothing but the story of ignorance and nothing but the story of discrimination.
Pointing out that 95 per cent of the railway lines belonging to Assam were constructed during the British regime, Baishya said that even after 64 years of Independence there is not a single electric railway line in Assam. Most of the capital cities in the Northeastern States are not connected by the Railways, Baishya said.
Construction of Bogibeel Bridge was undertaken but in the last 14 years not even one-fourth of this bridge has been completed. Further for the construction of a railway tunnel between Lumding and Badarpur Railways have taken 13 years.
In the last Railway Budget, the then Railway Minister had announced two new modern hospitals; one at Guwahati and another one at Rangapara. But the fate of these hospitals is not known, Baishya said.
The gauge conversion between Rangapara and Murkongselek has now stopped and no work is going on for the last several months.
He also urged the Railway Ministry to establish a Sports Academy in the Region for the development of sports.
Participating in the discussion, Kumar Deepak Das said even after sixty years of Independence, there is no double line, no electrified railways. Even gauge conversion of the existing rail lines has not been completed till date.
The survey for the new railway line between Jogighopa-Amingaon via Barpeta was done recently but the Railway Minister should assure that the Budget provision for commissioning of the project will be provided during this financial year.
In the last Budget Session, an Industrial Park was promised in Bongaigaon. But, till date, nothing has come out. Das also urged that the entire area up to Srirampur should be brought under Rangiya division.
He reiterated the demand re-naming of the Puri Express as Sankardeva Express, and naming the newly introduced train between Howrah and Dibrugarh after Dr Bhupen Hazarika. A Duronto train for the North East between Mumbai Central and Guwahati should also be introduced, he added.