Shrinking railway land in Dimapur forced double-track diversion to Assam
A view of Dimapur Railway Station. (Morung File Photo)
Morung Express News
Dimapur | March 15
The Dimapur railway station in Nagaland getting neglectful treatment from the Indian Railways has often been the accusation. Unfair fund allocation for development and passenger amenity upgrades, despite being the second-best cash cow of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), has rendered the station to rank low and lag behind other smaller stations in the region, further goes the allegation.
However, railway insiders in Dimapur disagree. According to this inside narrative, the shrinking railway land, or in other words, encroachment has come in the way of expansion plans forcing projects to die premature deaths on the drawing board.
“Otherwise, there is no dearth of funds from the Railways,” claimed one railway official.
“Fund is allocated to all stations for development. But for development and expansion, we need land, which is lacking here. It is not that the Railways do not have land. It is because large tracts have been encroached on both sides of the station.”
The official did not provide any figure on the area of land lost but said that private buildings have come up on railway land with pattas (land deed) purportedly issued by the district administration.
He said that this has technically rendered eviction almost impossible with cases landing in legal disputes.
While a few may have gained prime property, the official said that the long-term loss for Dimapur and Nagaland in general is immense.
A glaring effect of this has been how the Dimapur railway station has struggled to improve its service and passenger amenities.
“A plan to install escalator (like in Guwahati) was ditched and whatever facelift was given had to be done on the existing infrastructure,” said the official.
It also implied that the number of platforms cannot be increased from the existing five.
Besides that, he said that the biggest loss has been the diversion of a planned double–track running through Dimapur just because land could not be acquired.
If it had worked out, the Dhansiri-Bokajan stretch via Dimapur would have got an additional track. Double-track would enable trains to move in both directions, while shortening the mandatory stops for slower trains. Currently, some trains have to schedule longer stops in certain stations to allow express trains to pass.
Now, that proposal has been diverted to Assam. According to the official, the project will skirt Dimapur with the new track breaking off from Dhansiri station through Dillai to eventually reconnect with the Bokajan station.
If the Dimapur railway station has to be live up to the NFR’s ‘second highest revenue station’ tag, he said that political will is a must with the state’s “politicians” (policy makers) taking proactive steps to resolve the land issue.
Further, he said that it would not be long before Dimapur loses that tag. Once the Silchar-Jiribam route goes functional, revenue generation here would be drastically affected. When that happens, he said that Manipur would have the option of skirting Dimapur to haul its goods via Silchar.