GUWAHATI, March 19 - Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA) has criticised the State Government over the latter�s alleged failure to pressurise the Centre over various railway-related issues, including doubling of tracks and upgradation of rail infrastructure in Assam.
Dipankar Sharma, secretary of ARPA, said the Sarbananda Sonowal-led State Government has, just like the previous Congress regime at Dispur, failed to take up railway related issues with the Union government.
�Unlike governments in other states, the Assam government has made no concerted efforts so far to take up such issues with the Railway Ministry. There is a distinct lack of concern. Even our legislators are mute and none of the MLAs has ever raised any railway-related issues in the Assembly,� he said.
ARPA has called upon the State Government to take initiative for forming an Assam Railway Development Corporation.
�Similar steps have been taken by governments in some other states, including by the Kerala government very recently. There is a lot of potential for joint ventures between the Railway Ministry and the State Government,� Sharma said.
He said that with the Lok Sabha MP from Nagaon Rajen Gohain serving as the Minister of State for Railways, Assam and the entire Northeastern region can gain a lot.
�However, while there have been lots of announcements regarding new projects in recent months, nothing much has moved on the ground. With regard to many of the new projects announced, there is no clarity regarding funds. This is unfortunate. Without proper follow-up action, nothing will change on the ground,� Sharma said.
ARPA has also expressed concern about recent news reports that the proposal to turn Agyathuri into a world class terminal may not happen due to encroachment of railway land by squatters.
�If that be really the case, it will be a big setback as far as efforts to upgrade railway infrastructure in Assam are concerned. Already, there is too much congestion in the Agyathuri-Kamakhya section and a major terminal at Agyathuri is the need of the hour,� Sharma said.
He said ARPA is planning to raise the issue of Agyathuri terminal at the next meeting of the Zonal Railway Users� Consultative Committee, which is expected to be held next month.
�If there is really encroachment on railway land, then NF Railway should immediately take up the matter with the State Government and the government should initiate steps to remove the squatters,� Sharma said.
ARPA has also called upon the NF Railway to reschedule the timing of some local trains for the convenience of commuters and said that some of the trains depart around 4 am or 4.30 am from their stations of origin and this causes a lot of trouble to passengers.