Train to roll between Agartala and Akhaura by 2018

| Updated: Oct 20, 2016 13:57 IST

Agartala [India], Oct 20 (ANI): By the end of 2018, a new rail connectivity of India and Bangladesh is likely to operate, said a joint high delegation of both the nations after the conclusion of the fifth Project Steering Committee meeting of Agartala-Akhaura (Tripura-Bangladesh) Railways that met here at the Agartala State Guest house yesterday. The 10-member Indian delegation, consisting of senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and India Railways, was led by Ajit Kumar Gupte, Joint Secretary of MEA, Government of India while the eight member Bangladesh team was led by Sashi Kumar Singh, Additional Secretary of Bangladesh government that reached Agartala. "There is a stress of 15 Km which is still to be built which will enable the railway line between Bangladesh and India to be connected. It will provide access for Bangladeshi goods to be able to come the Northeast (India) and similarly Northeast to access goods to Bangladesh. We have met the Bangladeshi delegation led by very senior officials who had come to discuss a roadmap for implementing this project as soon as possible," said Gupte during a joint press conference after the completion of the meeting. He informed that all pertinent issue related to the project has been discusses and a deadline has been set for completion of it. "We have completed all approvals in the respective ministry of both governments; we are now fully ready to start implementing the project. We discussed in detail issues such as land acquisition in both sides in Tripura and on the Bangladesh side in Brahmanbaria. We also discussed how the tenders would be issued, how the contracts would be given to respective companies and we have set specific dead line for implementation of the project," said the India team leader. He added that the land acquisition though almost is complete in the Indian side but yet to start in Bangladesh side and hopefully the project shall be completed by 2018. Gupte said, "We are expecting that some part of the work in the Indian side can be start by December this year 2016 because the land acquisition has to begin. Unless the land is acquired the work cannot start. Similarly, the process of land acquisition in the Bangladeshi side is going to start soon. We are hoping that the project will be completed within two to two-and-a-half year." He informed that the total cost of the project which India government will bear is around Rs 972.52 crores out of which the Indian side will cost Rs 580 crores, while the Bangladesh side shall cost around Rs 392.52 crores. Meantime, the Bangladesh team leader informed that they have also initiated the land acquisition process and by June next year the entire process will be completed and the land shall be handed over to the contractor. Singha said, "I think that this connectivity is very important, it will boast up the bilateral trade and people to people contact. It is one of the new frontiers of our opportunity, it is very important for both the countries. You know that already both the governments have agreed to act and signed MoU for establishment of the rail connectivity. We have targeted to complete the project by 2018." According to him though at seven point railways between India and Bangladesh are connected, it is operational on date only at three places. Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is directly supervising the new India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura which is going to be part of Trans-Asia Railway network. The Agartala-Akhaura railway project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her then Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi. Later Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the railway project with Hasina during his visit to Dhaka. The 1,650-km distance between Agartala and Kolkata would be reduced to only 550 km once the new rail track is linked through Bangladesh. The Indian government had announced it will bear the entire cost of the 15-km railway project. Of the 15 km, 5 km fall in the Indian Territory and the remaining in Bangladesh. Around 97.6 acres of land in Tripura was initially estimated for laying the track but the latest alignment of the project in which the Indian side will be overhead has reduced the required land acquisition to 72 acres. The India state-owned IRCON is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border. (ANI)