Guwahati, Sept 10: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma laid the foundation stone of the first railway station in Meghalaya on Sunday, a report published by Anandabazar Patrika said on Monday. Ministers, bureaucrats, police officers and North East Frontier Railway (NEFR) officials were present at the inauguration of the station in North Garo hilly district. If everything goes according to plan, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh will also be linked with railways by this year end.
Student and youth organisations of Meghalaya have been opposing extension of railway lines to the northeastern state, fearing it would only create a problem by bringing in 'outsiders'. The problem over railway extension in this part has been going on for nearly two decades, the report said. CM Mukul Sangma, however, said the railway link would help in the state's development and slammed those who were opposing the project. "We believe that other parts of the state will also be linked by railway lines," the newspaper report quoted Sangma's saying.
According to Meghalaya government officials, train services to Mendipathar will begin by next March. The 20-km-railway line between Dudhnai in Assam and Mendipathar will cost around Rs 144 crore, the report said. A government official expected that railway services will start from Shillong by 2018.
The plan to start train services in Garo hills was first mulled in the mid-1990s but it could not be executed in the face of public protest.
A top engineer of the NEFR said 20 km out of 21.76 km broad gauge line has been laid down already in Arunachal Pradesh. Several railway bridges have been built and land acquisition has been carried out. The line will be linked with North Lakhimpur Rangapara line in Assam.
However, progress on railway extension project between Dimapur and Kohima in Nagaland was not satisfactory even though approval had been received in 2007. Railway sources said procedural issues have delayed the progress.