GUWAHATI, July 6 - Expressing happiness with allotment of the Railway portfolio to Rajen Gohain, the Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA) today exuded confidence that with an MP from the State becoming the junior Railway Minister, the issues and problems relating to the sector in the north-eastern region will get priority.
Dipankar Sharma, general secretary of ARPA, said that the new Minister of State for Railways should focus on his home State. �The North East has always been a deprived region as far as development of railway infrastructure and facilities are concerned. Now, with the first ever Railway Minister from Assam, we hope Gohain will focus on his home State and the north-eastern region as a whole and deal with bottlenecks and take the initiative to improve infrastructure and services in the region,� he said.
Sharma said that Gohain, who took charge at the Rail Bhavan in New Delhi today, should urgently take action to ensure that work on double-tracking in Assam and the North East is taken up on a priority basis.
�The State is facing a lot of problems due to absence of double-tracking. This has not only hampered passenger service, but also stopped our trade and commerce from realising its full potential. Double-tracking in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section had been sanctioned many years ago, but clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is yet to come. Gohain should intervene with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on the matter. Without clearance of such bottlenecks, there cannot be progress in the rail sector in Assam,� Sharma added.
He also called upon Gohain to work towards expanding local and suburban services in the region and also to ensure that projects are not delayed beyond the stipulated time-frame.
�There is also an urgent need for a second railway bridge over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat. With Gohain at the Rail Bhavan, we expect he will try to address this issue. Being the Minister of State of Railways, Gohain is now in a position to influence the Rail Budget and secure best benefits for Assam and the North East. It is time for Assam to take all benefits we can with regard to railways,� said the senior ARPA office-bearer.
Meanwhile, officials at the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) also exuded confidence of better days with Gohain at the Rail Bhavan.
�He (Gohain) is veteran four-time MP. He knows the geography and needs of Assam. He has wide knowledge of the region and must have good ideas,� said a senior NFR official. He added, �We hope that now we can directly take up matters with him. Let us see if he can deliver as per expectations.�