Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Protests against unfinished rail projects in north India

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 07, 2013,
Guwahati/Agartala: Over 5,000 DYFI members, demanding early completion of delayed railway projects in the northeastern region, staged a demonstration at the NFR headquarters at Maligaon Wednesday.

Earlier, they took out a rally through different areas of Guwahati city.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Rajya Sabha member Jharna Das Baidya and party leader Uddhab Barman led the rally and demonstration.

The agitators submitted a memorandum to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) General Manager R.S. Virdi.

"We shall intensify our stir to force the NFR authorities to complete the railway projects at the earliest," DYFI Tripura unit president Tapas Datta told IANS.

He said over 500 DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India) and TYF (Tribal Youth Federation) activists, accompanied by artists and singers, arrived in Guwahati Tuesday night by bus after travelling 600 km from Agartala.

The activists had earlier planned to take a train but changed their plan in view of the violent situation in different parts of Assam over statehood-related protests.

Both DYFI and TYF are the youth wings of CPI-M.

DYFI Secretary Amal Chakraborty said: "Paucity of funds has held up many railway projects, including those declared national projects by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Both the government of India and the NFR authorities are reluctant to complete those projects."

"Besides the new railway lines in the northeastern states, gauge conversion works between Lumding (200 km north of Guwahati) and Agartala, and Agartala-Sabroom (in southern Tripura) railway extension are delayed due to the central government's negligence," he said.

The then prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda had laid the foundation stone for conversion of Lumding-Agartala metre gauge track to broad gauge in January 1996.

The cost of the project has escalated to Rs.2,800 crore from Rs.648 crore in 1996.

The broad gauge railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding (in Assam's Nagaon district), connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam with the rest of India by a single 109-year-old metre-gauge railway track.

Agartala is one of the newest stations of the Indian Railways, and came up on the country's rail map in October 2008.

"After a series of movements since 1952, the metre-gauge railway track was extended from Lumding to Agartala in 2008," Tapas Datta regretted.

According to the Left Leaders, the DYFI and TYF activists have been organising protest rallies in Tripura and Assam over the past three months to make Wednesday's demonstration programme in Maligaon a success.



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