NEW DELHI, Aug 10 - In a fresh initiative to augment the railway network in the North-east, projects worth Rs 37,000 crore have been taken up, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here today.
To augment the railway network in the north-eastern states, 13 new lines, three gauge conversion and four doubling projects with a balance fund requirement of Rs 37,000 crore have been taken up. These projects, on completion, will augment the network by 1,915 km, he said.
The Railway Minister was flagging off new passenger train services following conversion of the North Lakhimpur�Murkongselek and Balipara�Bhalukpong sections into broad gauge. The programme was held through simultaneous video conferencing between Rail Bhavan and Murkongselek and Bhalukpong.
At the Rail Bhavan, Minister of State Manoj Sinha, Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita, Chairman Railway Board AK Mital, Member Engineering Railway Board VK Gupta and other Railway Board members were among those present.
At Murkongselek Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal was present, while at Bhalukpong Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju was present.
Minister Prabhu flagged off the 15613/15614 Guwahati-Murkongselek Intercity Express (daily) and 55719/55720 Dekargaon-Bhalukpong Passenger (in newly gauge-converted Balipara-Bhalukpong section).
Extension of 55429/55430 Rangiya-Rangapara North Passenger up to Dekargaon with new numbers 55721/55722, extension of 55613/55614 Dekargaon-Harmuti Passenger up to Murkongselek with new numbers 55813/55814, besides increase in frequency of 15903/15904 Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express from weekly to bi-weekly, which was announced in the Railway Budget 2012-13, were also inaugurated.
Speaking on the occasion, the Railway Minister said that it was a �golden day� in the history of Arunachal Pradesh, as it was getting its second broad gauge connectivity with the commissioning of the Balipara�Bhalukpong gauge conversion. Earlier this year, Itanagar was provided connectivity with the national capital through a direct train.
Prabhu further said that along with this, commissioning of the newly converted North Lakhimpur�Murkongselek section marked the completion of the Rangiya�Murkongselek gauge conversion project running all along the north bank of the Brahmaputra. This would start a new era of development for the people of the region. This would also serve the defence needs of the country, he said.
�This 510-km gauge conversion project costing about Rs 3,600 crore was sanctioned in 2002-03. The project suffered delay mainly due to fund constraints in the past. But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crore was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crore has been provided in 2015-16. The results are visible as we are today opening the entire project,� the Railway Minister said.
He claimed that rail connectivity to the north-eastern states had been made a mission item by the new government, �as we provided an all-time high budget allotment of Rs 5,200 crore for the projects in this region in 2014-15, which is over 50 per cent more than 2013-14. This tempo has been maintained in 2015-16 also by providing Rs 5,300 crore.�
The Railway Minister also informed that work on the Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra was also progressing well and its completion in June, 2017 would change the landscape of the area.