Agartala, July 3 (IANS): The Indian Railways will connect all the capitals of northeastern states with the rest of the country by 2017, a senior railway official said here on Saturday.
"Under the current mandate of 'North East Vision 2020' all the northeastern state capitals would be brought under railway connectivity by 2017 if the land acquisition takes place on time," Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) General Manager (Construction), Vijaya Kanth told reporters.
The North East Vision 2020 was prepared by the North Eastern Council (NEC) for the development of the region. The eight northeastern states are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
Several railway projects now under way in all the eight northeastern states are getting delayed. The main cause is a long period of monsoon which leaves a very short working period from October to March, she said.
"Frequent shutdowns by various political and non-political parties have affected railway construction works and traffic as well as supply of essential goods between the northeastern states and the rest of India," the official said.
"Due to mountainous locations and terrorism in some parts of the region, technical and security related challenges are also major obstacles for expansion of railway network in the region, bordering China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan," said Vijaya Kanth.
The NFR is now laying railway tracks to extend its network up to Sabroom in southern Tripura, 135 km from Agartala, the NFR general manager said.
"After the extension of railway line up to Indian border town Sabroom, it would be easier to access the Chittagong international sea port," Vijaya Kanth stated.
She said that northeast is NFR's priority area and receives government's full support.
"Works are now in full swing to extend railway line from Agartala to border town Sabroom by 2014 and to connect south Tripura's district town Udaipur by March 2012," said the official.
"In the eastern border state of Arunachal Pradesh, capital Itanagar would be connected to Harmuti while the Himalayan state of Sikkim too would not lag behind. Tracks would be laid from Sevoke in neighbouring West Bengal to Rangpo in south Sikkim," she said.
Assam's main city Guwahati and Tripura capital Agartala are now already connected by the railway network.
Agartala is the newest station of the railways and came up on the country's rail map in October 2008.
Railway line first entered Assam in 1881 when the Assam Railway and trading companies began construction of a 65-km long metre gauge line from Dibrugargh to Makum collieries in Margherita in northeastern Assam for the sole purpose of transporting tea and coal.
In all, ten rail projects in the northeastern region have been declared as 'national projects.' Important projects include Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam and gauge conversion between southern Assam and Tripura.
The NFR construction chief along with senior railway officials is now on a visit to Tripura to supervise the railway work there.
According to the official, in Nagaland tracks exist up to Dimapur. It would be further extended to capital Kohima. In Manipur, tracks will be extended from Jiribam to capital Imphal.