NEW DELHI, Feb 17 � Ahead of the Railway Budget, the Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has made a strong plea for introduction of Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains in nine sectors of Northeast Frontier Railway in the Railway Budget for 2011-12.
Even as Minister DoNER, Bijoy Krishna Handique wrote a letter to Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, at a pre-Budget meeting held with the Railway Ministry officials, the Ministry DoNER formally placed the demands for inclusion in the Railway Budget here today, sources said.
The stations proposed to be covered by the new DMU trains included Tinsukia � Mariani � Jorhat, Jorhat � Dimapur � Nagaon, Guwahati � Goalpara, Goalpara � Bongaigaon � Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur � Tezpur, Tezpur � Guwahati, Agartala � Dharmapuri (Tripura), Silchar � Dharmapuri (Tripura), Lumding � Silchar.
Citing an Editorial that appeared in The Assam Tribune, a copy of which was attached with his letter, Handique in his letter to Mamata Banerjee underlined the importance of the sectors in the light of boosting rail connectivity in the region.
Handique mentioned �despite the best efforts of the Government, the communication within North East and between various important towns of the Region is far from satisfactory. Heavy Dependency on road transport, which is not free from disruption, has not only strained the road infrastructure but also resulted in large number of road accidents resulting in loss of invaluable human lives and property. In this background, the services of DMU in NF Railways came as fresh breather at an opportune moment�.
Handique further pointed out the importance of each sector in order to ensure Intra Regional Connectivity in Inter State Border Areas, maximise outreach to the agrarian communities in remote parts of the region, enhance connectivity to tea garden belts, flood affected areas and isolated belts under Bodoland Territorial Council, increase tourist traffic to scenic areas in Barak Valley and Tripura, among others.
The Centre had last September announced an ambitious project for linking all capital cities in the North Eastern States with railway network at an estimated investment of Rs 17,000 crore by the year 2016.
The project was proposed in Vision Document 2020, a blueprint for overall development of the region, which was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008. The Ministry of DoNER is the Delivery Monitoring Unit for the Project of Gauge Conversion of Lumding � Silchar, Arunachal � Jiribam, Badarpur � Kumarghat from metre gauge line to broad gauge encompassing 368.1 km of railways with an estimated cost of Rs 3909.49 crore.