Source– The post is based on the article “Our Railways are the Northeast’s leading engine for development” published in the mint on 1st March 2023.
Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure
Relevance: Development of north-eastern region
News- In the last 8 years, much work has been done to expand the footprints of railways across the northeastern region.
What are important initiatives taken by the government for developments of railway infrastructure in the north-east region?
Railway connectivity– The government has given an unprecedented impetus to connectivity in the region. The Railways in the last 9 years has spent over ₹50,000 crore in the region on laying new railway lines and building bridges, tunnels. It has sanctioned new projects worth nearly ₹80,000 crore.
India is building the Jiribam-Imphal rail line, which has the world’s tallest pier bridge at a height of 141 metres.
In comparison with expenditure of ₹2,122 crore per year between 2009 and 2014, there has been a 370% increase in average annual budget allocation.
Even the region’s farthest corners are being covered. 121 new tunnels are currently being constructed. This includes the 10.28 km-long Tunnel No. 12. It is India’s second longest.
Creating jobs and empowering youths– In an effort to promote local businesses and economy, the North-East Frontier Railway operated the first parcel cargo express train between Assam and Goa in 2022.
To promote more facilities for tourism, the North East Frontier Railways has introduced several modern Vistadome coaches. This is expected to raise tourist footfalls. It will further expand job opportunities, especially for women and disadvantaged communities.
The Indian Railways has also been instrumental in creating employment opportunities for the youth in the region. In the last 3 fiscal years alone, the Railways has engaged more than 20,000 unskilled workers and generated vacancies for skilled work.
A gateway to India’s Act East policy– In 2014, India’s ‘Look East’ policy that focused on forging better economic relations with our eastern neighbours was transformed into a geo-strategically important ‘Act East’ policy.
PM Modi mentioned that the Northeast region would be the gateway to this new policy’s implementation.
A glowing example of this policy is the landmark Agartala–Akhaura rail link being built betweenIndia and Bangladesh at a cost of over ₹1,100 crore. DoNER and the ministry of external affairs are co-funding this project.
Similarly, the Imphal railway line will be extended till Moreh. From there, it will join Myanmar Railways at Kalay, forming a trans-Asian railway.
Projects of geo-strategic importance– The government has decided to build a rail-cum-road corridor that will connect Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This will include building India’s first underwater rail tunnel under the Brahmaputra river.
In 2017, the strategic Dhola–Sadiya Bridge, which connects northern Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh, was opened for traffic. It can support the weight of Indian battle tanks and facilitate quick movement of troops to India’s northeastern borders.
In 2018, Asia’s second longest rail-cum-road bridge, the Bogibeel Bridge over the Brahmaputra in Assam was inaugurated. It will cut down the travel distance between Assam and Arunachal by 80% and also provide logistical support to our defence forces.