SILCHAR, July 26: The recent report of the Indian Railway Safety Commissioner listing Silchar-Lumding BG route as most ‘risky’ for running passenger trains has created ripples and rumblings in civil society of Barak Valley. It is after long wait of more than 18 years that the construction of this BG route was completed and the trial run of goods and passenger trains started from last March. This created hope among the people of this valley and the adjoining states of Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur about easy and fast movement of passenger trains, forgetting the time-consuming journey by MG trains.
What has come as a surprise is that the announcement following the trial runs by the competent railway authorities at Maligaon and Delhi about the run of passenger trains from any time in August, this very report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has taken various organizations fighting for the project by shock and dismay. They have demanded statement and explation from the NF Railway as well as the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, in this regard.
In fact, it was a report of a most widely watched tiol channel which quoted a top level source in the Railway Ministry that led to the opening of public debate. It is to be recollected that the CRS team inspected the BG route in two phases, first from Lumding to Haflong and then from Haflong to Silchar. Its report remained in file until the tiol electronic media revealed it.
All Barak Youth Students’ Association (ABYSA) chief convener Baharul Islam reacting to the CRS report said that it was the much talked about politician-contractor-bureaucrat nexus that compromised with the quality of work. He also described the diversion route from Harangajao to Migrendisa as unscientific since this 31 km route is on very treacherous terrain and soil. It was discarded by the British who preferred the steepest gradient on the Harangajao and Jatinga.
Silchar-Lumding BG Rupayan Sangram Committee (SLBGRSC) has questioned the justification for this diversion and in a statement wanted to know if the Geological Survey Report was done and followed by the NF Railway construction department before going for the diversion. The impression was given by the Divisiol Railway Mager based at Lumding that passenger trains would run after monsoon. Strong reaction also came from All Cachar-Karimganj-Hailakandi Students’ Association (ACKHSA) on this alarming report of the safety commissioner which it described as of grave concern
Citizens’ Forum in a statement said the CRS report was in total contradiction to a letter of the Chief Administrative Officer, Railway Construction Department, to it that from August the BG route would be thrown open to passenger trains also. The Construction Department here has agreed to sit with the members of Citizens’ Forum to discuss the related issues concerning CRS report. Quite significantly, ABYSA from the very beginning has been opposing the diversion line over river Jatinga.
In fact, the media has in its reports umpteen times has brought to the fore the origil plan and estimate as well as the blueprint for taking the BG from Sukritipur railway station to Lanka without disturbing the existing British made MG. It is also important that this route whose details were with the Construction Department here way back in 1984 showed how it will avoid much of the hilly terrain and the number of bridges and tunnels will come down almost half of the newly laid BG. From all accounts has again been pushed to uncertainty by this CRS report.