GUWAHATI, Nov 24 � Ahead of Narendra Modi�s maiden visit to the State after becoming the Prime Minister, the Assam Rail Passengers Association (ARPA) has called for urgent steps from the Union government to upgrade the railway infrastructure in the region to bring it at par with the rest of the country.
The ARPA said that people of Assam and the North East have for decades been deprived of double-tracks, which has not only hampered passenger traffic but also slowed down commerce and economic activity in the region.
�Government after government has failed to take account of the needs and aspirations of people of the region. It is ironical that more than 65 years after Independence we are still being served by single-track. Now that NDA has formed government with a huge majority, we want the Prime Minister to take into account the needs of the region and fast-track the double-track project,� said ARPA secretary Dipankar Sarma.
The Association also expressed its concern over the lack of a second railway line over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat and said that an immediate step is needed to cater to this for both economic and strategic reasons.
He said that another major factor hindering the growth of railways in Assam is the lack of local and suburban services.
�There is an urgent need to introduce and promote suburban services, especially from smaller towns to Guwahati and Dibrugarh, which are the major centres of Lower and Upper Assam, respectively,� Sarma said, adding that two new passenger terminals at Pandu and New Guwahati are urgently required to cope with the rising traffic to Guwahati.
ARPA has also demanded introduction of DEMU rakes in Assam and the North East so that general rakes can be spared for Mail and Express trains.
�The matter of the 143 km second line from New Bongaigaon to Agratoli is pending with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. It should be cleared at the earliest. We hope Prime Minister Modi will take the initiative in this regard,� Sarma said.
The ARPA has also called upon the Centre to set up a suburban terminal at Sarbhog for catering to the huge agriculture market of Lower Assam so that farmers can secure proper remuneration which is currently hampered due to lack of easy access to transportation facilities.
It also demanded that train services be extended to Tezpur town, from the current rail head at Dekargaon.
�Another major issue affecting the people of the North East is the current geographical boundaries of the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which now encompasses parts of West Bengal and Bihar. This has led to bias against the North Eastern States, both with regard to projects as well as recruitment of locals. We demand that there should be a regrouping of the NFR, with areas of Bihar and West Bengal separated from it and NFR being only responsible for the North Eastern States,� Sarma pointed out.