NEW DELHI, April 15 - Asserting that overall connectivity, including rail and road network, to the Northeast is a major priority of the present government, Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh claimed 151 per cent hike in rail budget during the last two years of Modi government�s term.
Addressing the �Global Rail Convention� organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce here on Thursday, Dr Singh said that the total budget outlay fixed by the present government for 2016-17 is Rs 5,340 crore, which he claimed was manifold higher than the average budget outlay during the earlier UPA government that stood at just Rs 2,121.6 crore.
Dr Singh said the high priority given to connectivity in the Northeast, including the rail network, is borne out by the fact that within six months of the taking over of the present government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during one of his visits to the region, inaugurated the first ever rail link to Meghalaya and around the same time, Arunachal Pradesh was also brought on the rail map of India.
He said the Akhaura-Agartala-Bangladesh rail-line is going to be a game-changer and the Ministry of Railways has offered to contribute Rs 580 crore for construction of railway track on the Indian side, while for across the border, funds will be borne by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Referring to fast-track movement of rail expansion in the Northeast, Dr Singh said, the long-time pending work on the broad-gauge track was expedited in the last two years and during 2015-16, over 500 kilometres of broad-gauge railway track was laid in the region. This includes the broad-gauge track to Agartala, which became functional on February 20, and also Katakhal-Bhairabi in Mizoram.