GUWAHATI, May 19 - With counting of votes of the Lok Sabha elections to be taken up on Thursday, the Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has demanded that the next government at the Centre must give utmost priority for development of railway infrastructure in the northeastern region.
“It is very unfortunate that successive governments in the Centre have failed to take adequate steps to improve railway infrastructure and connectivity in this region. We hope that the next government, which will come to power after results of the Lok Sabha elections are out, will seriously look into the matter and take urgent steps in this regard. At the same time, the 14 newly elected Lok Sabha MPs, who will represent our State in Parliament, must also be proactive in raising issues related to the railways,” said Dipankar Sharma, secretary of ARPA.
Sharma said that no steps have been taken to undertake doubling in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section since last one decade.
“The matter is still pending before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). The utilisation capacity of that section has touched 200 per cent and yet the Cabinet has not given the go-ahead for doubling in that section. This is in contrast to the green single given for tripling of the railway track in the Narayangarh-Bhadrak section in Odisha and West Bengal, which has a utilisation of only 138 per cent. A third line has been sanctioned for Odisha and West Bengal, while Assam does not even have a second line. Such discrimination must end. The next government should give clearance for doubling in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section immediately after assuming office,” he said.
The ARPA also called for formal decision by the upcoming government at the Centre for a new rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat.
“The sanction for a new rail-sum-road bridge at Saraighat has been given by the Railway Ministry. The next government should formally clear the proposal in the Cabinet,” Sharma said.
“Besides, there is also the issue of addressing the existing bottleneck in Guwahati and nearby areas. Trains are getting delayed due to lack of slots at the Guwahati railway station. No work has taken place at the proposed ‘world class’ terminal at Agyathuri. That issue must also be addressed and work at the site fast-tracked,” he added.
The ARPA has also called for introduction of more passenger services over the Bogibeel Bridge.
“The full benefit of the Bogibeel will reach the common people only if more passenger services are introduced. There is an urgent need to connect Tezpur directly with Dibrugarh. The full potential of the Bogibeel Bridge must be utilised. We hope the next Central government will look into the matter,” said Sharma.
He expressed disappointment over the fact that very few candidates, who contested the Lok Sabha polls in Assam, raised issues related to railway infrastructure and connectivity during the poll campaign.