In a recent report, Indian Railways has said, it plans to invest more than Rs. 40,000 crore in infrastructure development in the North East states. The Indian Railways intends to connect the capital cities of five North-Eastern states and areas bordering China, Myanmar and Bangladesh with the rest of the country.
The plan is to connect the capital cities of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Nagaland in the coming two years. The projects include laying over 1,500 km of rail lines and several engineering marvels such as India’s longest double rail-cum-road bridge, one of the longest tunnels in the country and the world’s tallest pillar-based rail bridge.
Indian Railways is also planning to connect neighbouring countries of Myanmar, Bangladesh in the future through the existing and future projects of North East states. The new line linking Agartala in Tripura and Bangladesh is also under construction. The plan also includes connecting the border regions of China right up to Tawang, by developing 180 kms of railway lines in Arunachal Pradesh.
These lines will connect the capital of all north east states with the current operational network in Guwahati which will significantly cut down travel time between the north eastern and other states of the country providing a cheaper mode to the people and boosting freight movement. There are other strategic railway lines which intend to help movement of defense forces.
In the last three years, the government under Modi was successful in including five North Eastern states – Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura – to the broad gauge map of the country. As many as 29 new trains were introduced in the region in a span of just one year.
The success of the Indian Railways is not limited to the North Eastern region, it has been successful in connecting areas hitherto untouched areas due to security reasons. The Railways has developed railway infrastructure in Maoist affected areas of the Dantewada region of Chattisgarh. This is augmented by the central government’s outlay of Rs. 11,000 crore for road connectivity in 44 Maoists affected districts.
Last year, the Prime Minister had inaugurated the longest river bridge of 9 kms on the Brahmaputra. It is to be noted that North East is extremely important in terms of India’s strategic and economic ambitions, hence connectivity and development initiatives have got increased allocation from the present government.