By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 8: The All Barak Youth-Students’ Association (ABYSA) met State Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today with the demand for CBI inquiry into the abysmal delay in the conversion of the Lumding-Silchar metre gauge to broad gauge and the poor quality of works in a stretch of 98-125 km of the track.
Talking to newsmen in the city today, ABYSA chief convener Baharul Isam Borbhuiya said: “The report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRF) as apublished in the media says that 98 to 125 km of the track is very dangerous as the work in that stretch of the track is very weak. The lines have been damaged at least at 20 places due to landslides, and the tunnels crated difficulties in the progress of the work.”
“The CRS has raised its apprehension whether the tracks will be safe at all,” Borbhuiyan said, and added: “We’ve physically visited the construction sites which may come under the problems of landslides during the rainy season.”
Borbhuiya said: “The problems had been affecting the people of the valley when the works for the conversion of the British-era metre gauge into broad gauge was started. The project was declared in 1996 with a cost of Rs 648 crore and completed in 2015 with the escalation of the project cost to Rs 5,500 crore. During this long period, there were swindling of funds that had a cascading effect of the quality of the works.”
Borbhuiya said that a political lobby had been always been active to deprive the people of the Barak Valley from the benefits of railway communication. “The lobby is even out to erase the Barak Valley districts from the map of Assam,” Borbhuiya said.
“Now we want a CBI inquiry into the long delay in the completion of the gauge conversion works, anomalies as well as corruption in the project leading to escalation of project cost and booking the culprits,” Borbhuiya said.
He said that if the works were completed and the track is safe, why is only one train plying between Guwahati Silchar? “Why are the British-era trains with mes like Barak Valley Express and Cachar Express not resumed? Why the train being run now between Guwahati and Silchar takes so much time? This apart, why two more engines are needed for the train – Silchar-Guwahati Passenger – from Badarpur to Silchar?”
Borbhuiya said: “While the Centre made a last-minute hurry to complete the work of the track to flag off a train to garner votes, the State Government has got a chance to hush up the fincial anomalies in the project. The project turned out to be a ‘vote gauge’ from broad gauge.”
Two other conveners – Nilanjan Bhowmick and Mustafa Ahmed Choudhury – of the students’ body were also present at the present meet.
The train was flagged off on November 21 this year.