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Rs 5,116-cr earmarked for rail projects in NE

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, July 8 � The State BJP leaders heaved a sigh of relief when Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda said that an outlay of over Rs 5,000 crore has been earmarked for 23 pending projects, including 11 national projects in the North East, marking a 54 per cent jump in allocation.

While there was no word about the fate of the North East Region Rail Development Fund announced by Mamata Banerjee, the then Railway Minister, the Narendra Modi government�s maiden Rail Budget did not enthuse the Congress, but BJP leaders were a contended lot.

Gowda announced a number of new trains connecting North East. But some of the trains were already existing but were re-labelled and proposed as new trains.

�There are 23 projects under way in the North East, of which 11 are National Projects. I propose to allocate substantially higher funds for these projects compared to previous years,� the Railway Minister said presenting his maiden Budget.

In 2014-2015, an outlay of Rs 5,116 crore is earmarked for projects of the North East. This is 54 per cent jump over allocations in the previous year.

With higher allocations and by close monitoring of works in this region, I hope that Dudhnoi-Mendipathar New Line, Lumding-Badarpur-Silchar Gauge Conversions, Harmuti-Murkongselek and Balipara-Bhalukpung sections will soon get commissioned. These measures will also give a boost to the State Capital connectivity projects in the region, he announced.

Ten rail projects in the North-East region have been declared as national projects in 2009-2010 Rail Budget. These include Bogibeel rail cum-road bridge and gauge conversion of Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam, Rangiya-Murkongselek.

Presenting the Railway Budget for 2009-10, Mamata Banerjee had said, the North East region is very sensitive and its projects are in progress for providing connectivity to State capitals of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

Gowda, while presenting the Budget, said that the Railways planned to take up eco-tourism and education Tourism in North Eastern States.

Among the five premium trains announced today, Assam got one � Kamakhya-Bengaluru Premium Express. In the express train segment, three new trains are proposed to be introduced in Assam. They include Guwahati-Naharlagun Inter-city Express (daily), Guwahati-Murkongselek Inter-city Express (Daily) and Kamakhya-Katra Express (Weekly) via Darbhanga.

The eight passenger trains proposed to be introduced all over the country included Guwahati-Mendipathar Passenger (daily) and Rangapara North-Rangiya Passenger (daily).

Reacting to the Budget, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi described it as disappointing. He alleged that existing and old trains were introduced as new trains. �We had asked for introduction of long-distance trains, but it were not given.�

Long distance trains running between Assam, Chennai, Trivandrum, Mumbai, and Delhi should be made faster by reducing the journey time and better facilities should be provided to make the passengers more comfortable during the journey, Gogoi had demanded.

Describing the Budget as positive, Ramen Deka of BJP said that overall, seven new trains and 54 per cent hike in allocation for the national projects have been announced for the North East.

Reacting to the Budget, Biswajit Daimary said that compared to the previous budgets, this year�s budget is encouraging. For the first time specific funds have been earmarked for the national projects and a few new trains proposing to connect interior areas like Murkongselek with passenger train has been proposed. �Comparatively, this is a better budget,� he opined.

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