GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - The Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA) has called upon the State Assembly to pass a resolution seeking a separate railway zone dedicated exclusively to the Northeastern region.
ARPA secretary Dipankar Sharma said today that the issue of railway infrastructure, including doubling of tracks in this region, will not be solved until and unless the existing Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone is realigned and a separate zone for the Northeast is set up.
Maligaon-headquartered NFR covers all the Northeastern states, besides parts of Bihar and West Bengal, and over the years allegations have been levelled by various organisations that most of the funds coming to the zone, besides a major chunk of the railway job vacancies, are gobbled up by Bihar and West Bengal, thus depriving Assam and the other nearby states of their rightful share.
�The State government should move a resolution in the Legislative Assembly during the ongoing September Session calling for a separate railway zone for the Northeast. All parties represented in the Assam Assembly should support the resolution so that it can be adopted unanimously. Our MLAs owe that much to the voters of Assam,� Sharma said.
He said that work on track-doubling in Assam is progressing at a very slow pace.
�Besides, rail services to and from the Northeast and the rest of India remained severed for 20 days recently due to floods in eastern Bihar. There is only a single line connecting this region to the other states. That should change. Sometime ago, there were talks about having another line built via Forbesganj and that project should be taken up immediately. Railways are the lifeline for the people of the Northeast,� Sharma said.
He added, �It is really unfortunate that none of our MLAs has so raised the issue in the ongoing Assembly session regarding the problems faced by the people of Assam due to the disruption of railway services recently.�
ARPA has also called for setting up of Assam Railway Development Corporation as a joint venture between the Centre and the State to fast-track railway projects in Assam, on the lines of similar entities which exist in states like Kerala.
�There has only been a slogan of �parivartan�. Nothing has changed on the ground, even though the Minister of State for Railways is an MP from Assam. BJP is just following in the Congress� footsteps as far as developing strategic railway infrastructure in Assam and the Northeast is concerned,� said the ARPA secretary.