Rail-road Connectivity and accessibility to NE

Kamal Baruah

 

The rail-road connectivity between mainland India and NE states remain snapped since August 13 after devastating floods damaged the tracks / roads at Bihar and West Bengal. After two weeks, the first goods train chugged through the repaired flood-damaged portion. How long we face such transportation bottleneck still in an age of technological growth? There is huge loss of several crore after suspension of all trains. Trucks carrying essential commodities stranded on NH. The passengers have faced gruelling schedule at the station. Unlike air, train travelers have no alternatives in case of cancellation. On the other hand there is hue and cry to pay compensation for flight delay. Surprisingly there is minimal media coverage.

 

Getting a seat in train is like winning a lottery ticket in our region. And mass transit system like suburban rail is a distant dream since basic rail infrastructure is still not in place. DEMU, MEMU are still a hurdle for Guwahati to go to neighbouring districts. Metro will not happen soon for non availability of traffic movement study. Tracks are yet to be doubled and electrified. Should we find alternatives in case of such natural catastrophe? The ease of connectivity carries a strategic interest for any frontier land. India needs to remember how China pushed back Indian army in 1962. Can Trans-Asian railway / highway network be feasible?

 

International road corridor of highway might greet commuters very soon by connecting Calcutta via Bangladesh. India feels improving connectivity with Myanmar, Bangladesh will help linking the NE region with SE Asia. The big challenge for India wants to connect its railways track with Chittagong port through Sabroom, south Tripura. Railways are coming up Bhalukpung to Tawang, Murkongselek  to Pasighat in Arunachal and Silapathar. Agartala-Akhoura railway link would be part of trans-Asian rail connectivity. Will India access for mountain pass network across Himalayas? Despite geographically isolated from rest of India, Act east policy will surely add bright outlook for NE states in the future.

 



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