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Mizoram, Manipur to be on BG map soon

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 - Stating that better connectivity to the north-eastern States was of utmost priority to the Centre, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that Mizoram and Manipur are set to come on the broad gauge map of the country.

Prabhu had nothing new for the North East in his Railway Budget, which he presented today, and he merely recounted the old and ongoing projects.

�We have opened the long-awaited broad gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, thus connecting Barak Valley with the rest of the country,� the Railway Minister said.

�We also brought Agartala on the broad gauge network. The States of Mizoram and Manipur are also set to come on the broad gauge map of the country soon with the commissioning of the Kathakhal-Bhairabi and Arunachal Pradesh-Jiribam gauge conversion projects,� he said.

Referring to cleanliness measures, Prabhu said that the world�s first bio-vacuum toilet, developed by Indian Railways, is being used in the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express.

�I am happy to announce that Meghalaya has been brought on the railway map of India and direct connectivity to Delhi has been provided to Arunachal Pradesh,� he said. �Work for connecting the remaining States of the region is progressing well and Mizoram is expected to be connected by March 31,� he added.

Meanwhile, in a Question Hour reply to a question by Avinash Pandey, DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said that the Ministry of Railways had included four major railway projects for the North-Eastern region in the last three Railway Budgets. The Dimapur-Tizit new line (257 km) at a cost of Rs 4,274 crore and New Bongaigaon-Kamakhya via Rangiya doubling project (142 km) at a cost of Rs 1,798 crore were included in the 2013-14 Budget; the New Bongaigaon-Goalpara-Guwahati doubling project (176 km) at a cost of Rs 1,832 crore and the Digaru-Hojai doubling project (102 km) at a cost of Rs 946 crore were included in 2015-16 Budget, he clarified.

Describing the Railway Budget as most disappointing, Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi said that a number of promises made in the last Budget have not been fulfilled. Only names of some old projects have been changed. The demand for the Guwahati-Tinsukia doubling project and the Jakhalabandha-Numaligarh track remains to be fulfilled. The BJP-led NDA Government has failed to satisfy the people of Assam, he said.

Reacting to the Budget, former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar said that they were expecting more from the Budget. The Railway Minister has made empty promises and has not clarified from where the additional funds would come from. The Congress had done 95 per cent of the work and the BJP is only renaming the old projects, he said. The Budget also made no mention of the Bogibeel rail-cum-road project, Ghatowar said.

Meanwhile, Ramen Deka of the BJP described it as a comprehensive Budget, and said that a number of rail over bridges have been cleared. The Railway Minister has promised to connect Tripura and Mizoram, while North East has been given top priority.

Clarifying that the Bogibeel project is a national project and work would continue, Deka said that there is no need for making repeated mention in the Budget.

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