GUWAHATI, May 29 - Extending its greetings to the newly elected BJP-led alliance government in Dispur, the Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA) has called upon the State government to take a proactive role with regard to various issues relating to railway services and infrastructure.
Dipankar Sharma, general secretary of ARPA, said that despite repeated appeals from sections of society, including railway commuters, the previous Congress government in Assam failed to play any role in this regard.
�Old problems continue to plague the railway sector in Assam and the rest of the Northeast. Now that a parivartan of government has taken place, we also expect some parivartan with regard to railway-related issues. Governments in other States are active in taking up railway related matters concerning them with the Centre. Our State government should now also do the same,� he said.
He said that though the Railway Ministry is a Central preserve, the issues of railway infrastructure and facilities are very much a concern of State governments.
�Now we have NDA regimes in both New Delhi and Dispur. So this is the time to gain the maximum benefits for improving the rail infrastructure in the State. There is a need to complete the ongoing projects in a time-bound manner and prevent cost escalation, even as we should try our best to secure new projects for the State,� Sharma said.
He said there is saturation in the railway lines of Assam and utilisation is more than 100 per cent in most of the routes.
�Double-tracking has been done in many routes in other States where the track utilisation is much less than that of Assam. But here the double-tracking work in the New Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section is yet to be given clearance, even though it was sanctioned way back in 2013-14. Similarly, work on the Bogibeel project is still going while it was supposed to have been completed much earlier,� Sharma said.
The ARPA secretary also called upon the Assam government to take up railway projects in joint venture with the Centre as has been done by other States. Sharma said the railway network has been expanded in the region in recent years, but a lot remains to done to ensure smooth connectivity, especially in the North Bank.
�During the last few years, the Assam Legislative Assembly never discussed any railway related matters. This should change under the new government headed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal,� he said.
He also called upon the State government to appoint a senior minister as a coordinator to look into railway related issues and liaise with the Central government.
�We are glad to see the Chief Minister travel by train. The other ministers should also do the same so that they are able to understand the plight of common rail commuters. People have voted for the alliance with a lot of expectations and now it is their responsibility to fulfil them,� said Sharma.