Land Acquisition on Rs. 963 Cr India-Bangladesh Rail Line Project Begins.
After the ground-breaking ceremony was performed on the India-Bangladesh railway line project worth Rs963 crore ($145 million) by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Majibul Haque, jointly here on July 31 last year, after more than sevan and a half years on finalization. The land acquisition process for a 15 km railway project has finally begun this week in both countries, an official said.
West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Milind Ramteke said that they have targeted to hand over the required land to the railways by August 31.
Notice has been served on 257 families to acquire 66 acres of land, five acres of which belongs to the government and the remaining is privately-owned.
After the Revenue Department of the Tripura government issued a notification last week, their officials have quickly started the actual work of land acquisition, the District Magistrate said.
The process is being conducted under The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which was enacted by the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government during its second stint in office.
Ramteke said that the Union government had released Rs 97.63 crore to acquire the land for the project, for which the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency. An NFR official said that the Bangladesh government also started acquiring around 70 acres of land for the project.
After the actual work starts, the project would be completed within 30 months,” the NFR official said preferring anonymity.
The government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the five km track on the Indian side while the remaining 10 km would be laid by the Bangladesh railways.
However, IRCON would be the project management consultant of the Bangladesh Railway Board.
The Indian government would bear the entire cost of the project, which also figured during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June 2015.
The Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry would bear the cost of the project on the Indian side while the External Affairs Ministry would bear the cost of the project on the Bangladesh side.
The Agartala-Akhaura project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be part of the Trans-Asian Railway Network and provide much shorter connectivity from northeastern states to Kolkata via Bangladesh.
The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.
In October 2008, with the extension of the metre gauge track up to Agartala through southern Assam, Tripura became the first state capital in the northeast to be brought on India’s rail map after the country’s independence. Subsequently, the metre gauge was converted into broad gauge.
Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.
But the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway line would facilitate carriage of goods to and from both the countries and greatly benefit India’s land-locked northeastern states. Also, the journey time between Agartala and Kolkata, via Bangladesh, would be reduced by a third, from 1,613-km through mountainous terrain to a mere 514 km.