Prabhu flags off Purvottar Sampark Kranti Express,
says all NE capitals will be in rail map by 2020
Silchar, Feb 20: It was a dream come true for the people not only of Barak Valley but also of the neighbouring states of Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura, aspiring for long for broad gauge connectivity to the mainland of the country.
Flagging off the Silchar-New Delhi Purvottar Sampark Kranti Express today, Railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu described the occasion as "historic and remarkable".
Prabhu also iugurated two freight trains - one to Jirinia (215 km) in western Agartala and another to Jiribam (75 km) in western Manipur --- by remote control from Baradpur railway junction.
Addressing a large gathering at Silchar railway station, Prabhu said, "The aspirations of the people for better connectivity have not been met so far". He admitted that though Assam is on the BG rail map, six other Northeast States have been deprived for long.
"Taking into account the aspirations of the people, Prime Minister rendra Modi has laid emphasis on railway projects in the region and these have been executed on priority basis. All-out efforts will be made to connect all the capitals of eight States of the Northeast. Work on the projects to link Aizawl, Kohima, Imphal, Shillong and Gangtok will be taken up through a time-bound action plan so that all the capitals of eight NE sister States are on the rail map. We have set a deadline of 2020 to achieve this," Prabhu said.
Appreciating the effort put in by the officials, engineers and other employees, the Union minister said problems which were encountered while executing the projects have been resolved. He said the Northeast with vast tural resources and potentiality ought to be taken forward.
"When I was a minister of Forest and Environment, I had prepared a blueprint for scientific exploitation of bamboo of the region," he said, citing the example of Chi which, with lesser bamboo resources, could earn a revenue of Rs 12 lakh crore.
"The bamboo available could well be utilized for making various products for sale in the market. The region also has immense floriculture and horticulture potential. But to carry these products to the markets, connectivity is important. There lies the responsibility of the Indian Railways to lay down tracks and provide connectivity," he said.
The weekly Poorvottar Sampark Kranti express will run between New Delhi and Silchar via Guwahati, New Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.
Earlier on February 1, the Silchar-Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express began operations, meeting a long-standing demand of the people to link southern Assam with the country's mainland.
Southern Assam's Barak Valley was brought on the broad gauge rail map early last year, and a regular passenger train service between Silchar and Guwahati began on November 21 last.
The 210-km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project, which was declared a tiol project in 2004, had been initiated in 1996.
The Lumding-Silchar line is the lifeline for southern Assam, known as Barak Valley, and the mountainous States of Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram. These States are heavily dependent on railway for supply of foodgrain, fertilisers, petroleum products, construction materials and other commodities.