GUWAHATI, Sept 16 � The Centre is aiming to complete 34 ongoing railway projects in the Northeast Frontier Railway (NRF) zone with a total anticipated cost of around Rs 54,000 crore within five years, while the much-anticipated Bogibeel Bridge would also be ready for use by June 2017.
The projects will entail an additional investment of around Rs 35,000 crore. According to NFR, about Rs 20,000 crore have already been spent for these projects as on March 31, 2014.
�We have 34 different projects going on in the North East with an estimated total cost of around Rs 54,000 crore,� Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said here today.
Of the 34 projects in progress in the NFR zone, 21 are new lines, seven are gauge conversion and six are doubling projects.
He said developing railways in the North East is a priority and Budget allotment to the region has been hiked by 54 per cent in the Railway Budget this year. Besides, seven new passenger trains were announced.
Asked about the Bogibeel project, he said, �It is going as per schedule. There is confusion in the minds of some people that there is a delay in the project, but that is not the truth.�
Gowda said launching of all 41 girders of Bogibeel would be completed by December 2016 and then it would take another six months to complete the bridge. �By June 2017 we are sure we will complete it,� he said.
Gowda said this fiscal the Indian Railways is aiming to complete work on 450 km of tracks, as compared to 310 km last fiscal. Besides, work has been taken up for 40 railway overbridges and railway underbridges and efforts are on to close all unmanned level crossings within 2-3 years.
�Within five years our target is to have rail connection with all state capitals in the North East,� he said.
Gowda said two new lines � from Dudhnoi to Mendipathar and from Harmuti to Naharlagung � are ready and the Indian Railways will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate them. The dates will be decided as per convenience and schedule of Modi.
�I have also decided that I must visit the North East at least once every six months to review all ongoing projects,� he said.
The minister added that the new NDA regime at the Centre has deliberately decided to refrain from announcing new projects and would rather prefer to finish work on the pending ones.
Regarding security problems, including that related to disruption of train services to Arunachal Pradesh over the ILP issue, Gowda said senior railway officials are in constant touch with the respective Chief Ministers and have secured cooperation from them.
Gowda said NFR has lost revenue to the tune of Rs 50 crore annually due to drop in carriage of coal on account of Supreme Court rulings and the six-month long mega block to facilitate gauge conversion work in the Lumding-Silchar section will result in loss of Rs 100 crore.
�We will complete work on the mega block within six months,� he said.
Regarding international projects, he said survey for extending railway connectivity to Bhutan is on, while land acquisition process has started in the Agartala � Akhaura (Bangladesh) section.
He praised the Maligaon-headquartered NFR for maintaining an 87 per cent punctuality rate in running of trains.
Meanwhile, during his maiden trip to the region after assuming office, the Railway Minister paid a visit to the Guwahati Railway Station and carried out an inspection of all facilities. He also interacted with passengers.
Later, he held meetings with senior officials of NFR (Open Line) and NFR (Construction) at Maligaon.