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Monday, December 1, 2014

Meghalaya on Country's rail map after more than 6 decades of Independence

Perhaps it comes as no news -  in times like Pongal - tickets for Southbound trains  are sold out in a few minutes within the offline and online window opening with thousands scrambling to make advance reservations.   Virtually every train to destinations within the State such as Madurai, Salem and Coimbatore as well as Kerala and Karnataka run up huge waitlists. This when there are so many trains running on these routes. North East India is different.  In April 2014, Train no.  15696 Agartala Lumding MG Express covering  a distance of 408 km in 19 hours connected  Agartala in West Tripura with Lumding city in Nagaon Dist of Assam was in news because it put Arunachal’s capital is finally on India’s rail map.   Sri Narendra Modi flagged-off another train on 29th Nov 2014, this time putting Meghalaya on the Country’s rail map after more than six decades of Independence. 

Meghalaya in the North East of India, means "the abode of clouds" in Sanskrit.  This state borders Bangladesh and Assam.  The capital is Shillong, known as the "Scotland of the East".  English is the official language of Meghalaya. Meghalaya has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. It is also a major logistical center for trade with Bangladesh.

PM Modi fulfilled a long nurtured dream of Meghalaya on Railway map.  Modi flagged off a train between Meghalaya’s Mendipathar and Guwahati, a distance of 131km, and laid the foundation stone for a 51.38km-long new broad gauge railway line between Bhairabi and Sairang in Mizoram. As the Prime Minister held the green flag at the NF Railway Sports Stadium at Maligaon, the train chugged out of the new station at Mendipathar amid the cheers of thousands who gathered there to be a part of the “historic moment.” With his maiden visit to the Northeast as Prime Minister beginning today, Modi emphasised improving connectivity, seen as the region’s major bottleneck for progress. He will visit Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura during his four-day visit. Underlining his government’s resolve to accord priority to the development of the Northeast, Modi said he had heard that according to vastu shastra, if the northeastern corner of the house was well maintained, the entire house could be taken care of. He said for India to be prosperous, the development of the Northeast is a priority.

He reminded the gathering about the commitment of Rs 28,000 crore in the first budget of his government to building new railway lines in the region.  It is stated that the plan to connect Meghalaya was envisaged in 1880 when the British wanted to link Shillong (the capital of the composite Assam province) with Calcutta through Mawsmai, Cherrapunjee, Companyganj, Sylhet and Goalandu. The project, however, did not materialise.

The Rs 275-crore project was ready in March this year and received the safety clearance in August. Nearly 10.26km of the track falls in Assam. Lauding Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, who was also present, Modi said connectivity, including optical fibre network system in the region, would help local youths get jobs. Assam governor J.B. Patnaik, Meghalaya and Mizoram governor K.K. Paul, Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, Union minister for sports Sarbananda Sonowal and railway board chairman A. Kumar attended the function. Over 3,000 people gathered at Mendipathar railway station to witness the event. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma  is quoted as telling  The Telegraph, “When Modi waved the green flag, I felt Garo hills is moving forward to a better future.”
Station Name
Arrival
Km
Speed
Elev
Mendipathar

0
36
65m
Nolbari
07:15
9
32
85m
Dudhnoi
07:35
19.1
55
50m
Amjonga 
08:11
29.1
56
49m
Rangjuli 
08:23
39.4
21
50m
Dhup Dhara 
08:50
48.6
57
49m
Singra 
09:01
58.1
18
51m
Boko 
09:29
66.3
52
48m
Bamuni Gaon
09:39
74
70
49m
Chaygaon 
09:50
85.6
54
48m
Mirza 
10:05
98.3
60
51m
Azara 
10:17
109.3
35
52m
Kamakhya Junction
10:40
122.1
11
55m
Guwahati
11:20
129.1
-
60m


Prime Minister is also quoted as saying - "Railway facilities are the same as they were 100 years back.... Privatise the railway stations and modernise them,"  and that Railway Stations should be better than airports as most travellers are poor people. Modi said the Indian Railways have the potential to become the backbone of the country's economic activity.  "The upper middle class in India wants to go for visiting places once or twice a year. They keep searching for good places. If we have good connectivity, then they will come to North-East as it is full of natural beauty and lovely people. "Once infrastructure is developed, rest all will be done by the public," Modi said.  Good news for the people of India…. North East is  elated to be a part of this moment and becoming part of Railway map of India with the running of the first passenger train.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Dec 2014.

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