GUWAHATI, Sept 3 - Even as the Centre has in recent years, time and again, reiterated its commitment to strengthen and expand communications in the remote areas, including the North Eastern region, work on the new broad gauge line from Byrnihat to Shillong is yet to pick up.
Sources in the Indian Railways told The Assam Tribune that there has been absolutely no physical progress on the ground with regard to the Byrnihat-Shillong new broad gauge line National Project.
The 108.4 km project, expected to strengthen the railway network in Meghalaya following start of services to Mendipathar, had been approved in 2010-11 and is anticipated to cost Rs 6,000 crore.
�The new line is targeted for commissioning by 2019-20. However, physical progress on the ground so far has been zero,� said an official. Sources said that till March 31 this year, Indian Railways had incurred an expenditure of Rs 14.8 crore in the project.
The Budget allotment for Byrnihat-Shillong project for 2016-17 was Rs 300 crore. �During the first three months of the current fiscal, from April to June, the total expenditure has been only Rs 2.82 crore. The overall financial progress has been only around 0.3 per cent so far,� said the sources.
They added that there was a strong opposition from Khasi Students Union (KSU) for a long time with regard to conducting First-Look Survey (FLS) but some progress has been made in recent times.
Meghalaya Government officials are holding regular meeting to sort out any security related issues.
�Land acquisition problem has also cropped up. Railway officials are holding regular meetings with the Deputy Commissioner of Ri Bhoi district in this regard,� said an official.
Sources said that land acquisition process had been held up for finalisation of guidelines of new Land Acquisition Act by the Meghalaya Government, but it has approved by the State Cabinet some time ago. The Byrnihat-Shillong new line project will have 102 major bridges, 51 minor bridges, besides 13 road under bridges (RUB) and nine road over bridges (ROB).
There will be 20 tunnels in the section measuring a total of 31.84 km, with the length of the longest tunnel estimated to be of 4,140 metres.
In addition, the new line will have 10 stations, 20 passenger platforms, three goods platforms, three goods sheds and 22 road crossings.