BARPETA, Feb 25 � The people of Barpeta, irrespective of political affiliations, have demanded construction of the proposed rail route connecting Barpeta. They have expressed the hope that the upcoming Railway Budget would facilitate the commencement of the project.
It may be mentioned here that a rail line from Jogighopa to Amingaon via Barpeta was proposed in the Railway Budget way back in 1997-98. But the feasibility survey was conducted only a few years back. People here saw light at the end of the tunnel after the survey. But their hopes began to fade when the project was shelved again.
The All Barpeta District Students� Union has demanded of the Prime Minister to connect Barpeta with both a rail line and the National Highway. In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of Barpeta a few days back, the district AASU unit rued the pathetic condition of roads in the district and the absence of a rail link to the town.
The memorandum, signed by Krishna Kanta Das and Samudra Patgiri, president and secretary respectively of the district AASU committee, stated that the Barpeta district, with a fascinating alluvial landscape of 2677.33 square kilometres, contains the divine footprints of Dakpurush, the first Assamese poet of the eighth century. Srimanta Sankaradeva, Madhabdeva, Damodardeva and Harideva, the neo-Vaishnavite religious preachers and social reformers, along with their disciples, established as many as 85 Satras (neo-Vaishnavite monasteries) in the district. Besides, there are 20 historical monuments and a number of naamghars, which make the district a hub of pilgrimage.
The Barpeta district has also produced a number of worthy personalities including the first Indian prose writer, Bhattadeva, the inventor of the vacuum brakes for trains and the first IRS colonel, Guru Prasad Das, political luminaries like the fifth president of India Fakharuddin Ali Ahmed and ex-Governor of Punjab Mahendra Mohan Choudhury.
The memorandum lamented that in spite of its rich heritage on the socio-cultural and intellectual fronts, Barpeta has been neglected by both the State and Central governments since Independence. As a result, the district is still lagging behind on all fronts of development including rail and road connectivity. Lack of development in terms of industry, infrastructure, rail, highway and air connectivity is a matter of concern.
Outlining the history of Barpeta, the memorandum mentioned that British rulers established Barpeta as a town in 1884, which was transformed into a subdivisional headquarters and subsequently, elevated to a district headquarters in 1983. It lamented that Guru Prasad Das, who invented the vacuum brakes for trains, was not accorded due honour by the Central Government and the Railway Department itself. Even the popular demand to connect Barpeta with the rail network of the country has been repeatedly turned down by the Government. It stated that there are only 47 kilometres of rail line in the entire district and the distance of the line from Barpeta is 25 kilometres.
The AASU leaders reminded the Prime Minister that the Railway Ministry had already conducted a survey for a proposed rail line in the district, connecting Barpeta, and an amount of Rs 70 lakh was spent on the survey. But it is a matter of regret that there has been no work to implement the proposal. As a result, the people of Barpeta fear that rail connectivity may be denied again. The leaders urged the Prime Minister to connect Barpeta with the rail line, which will fulfil a long-standing demand of the people.
The AASU leaders informed the Prime Minister that the road communication in the district is in a poor shape. They stated that there is an urgent need to connect Barpeta with a four-lane highway to make the town a centre of culture, religion and tourism.
Local leaders of the AGP, BJP, AIUDF and several prominent citizens of the district also echoed similar views.