Centre convenes meeting on new Indo-Bangla rail link  

The Indian External Affairs Ministry has convened a meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday to finalise the pending issues relating to proposed Agartala (Tripura)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) new rail link project, official said here on Monday.

“Various pending issues relating to new Agartala-Akhaura rail link project would be discussed and expected to be finalised in Wednesday’s meeting in New Delhi,” Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik told reporters.

bd-indiaThe much important fourth inter-ministerial steering committee meeting was called by the External Affairs Ministry, and officials from the Railway Board and other ministries would be present in the meeting.

Bhowmik said: “Funding of the rail project would be discussed at the meeting and a modified DPR (detailed project report) would be chalked out.”

“The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh would boost the socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries,” he added.

Bhowmik, who would apprise the central government officials about the present status of the project, said Rs.302 crore is needed to acquire around 100 acres of land in the Indian side for laying tracks.

The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would implement the new railway project, which was decided upon when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held meeting with her then Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi in 2010.

In the current year’s (2014-15) Railway Budget, Rs 145 crore has been allocated for the India-Bangladesh railway scheme, for which the central government will bear the entire cost.

“The preliminary works have started to lay a 15-km railway track to link Agartala with Bangladesh’s (southeastern city) Akhaura. The project would be operational at the earliest as the two countries are very serious to execute the plan,” an NFR official said.

He said the total cost of the proposed project was earlier estimated at Rs 271 crore.

“The state-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border,” he added.

Of the 15-km rail line, five km of tracks fall in the Indian territory and remaining in Bangladesh.

“After the implementation of the new railway project, it would be much easier and cost effective to ferry men and materials for northeastern states from rest of India and abroad via Bangladesh,” the NFR official added.

The Agartala station came up on the country’s rail map in October 2008.

Agartala is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi via Guwahati and Shillong, whereas the distance between Tripura’s capital and Kolkata through Bangladesh is just about 350 km.