Modi to lay foundation stone of India-Bangladesh rail project

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to lay the foundation stone of a new India-Bangladesh railway project on May 27, reports NDTV quoting a top railway official.

"Prime minister would attend the plenary session of North Eastern Council (NEC) in Shillong. From Shillong through remote control, the prime minister would lay the foundation stone of the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project," a top official of NFR said.

"PM Modi would also flag off regular passenger train service from Agartala to Sealdah, Agartala to Silchar and passenger train services to Manipur and Mizoram on the newly laid broad gauge line," the official added.

The Rs 968 crore Agartala-Akhaura railway project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

"Following the Tripura government's persistent persuasion and Prime Minister's Office (PMO) intervention, the DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) ministry has agreed to provide Rs. 580 crore for the new railway project," Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said.

"If the DoNER ministry releases the funds, the necessary work for acquisition of required 67 acres land would start immediately," he said.

During his recent visit to Tripura, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said the PMO has been supervising the new India-Bangladesh railway project with Tripura.

He said the 15 km (5 km on Indian side and 10 km on Bangladesh) long Agartala-Akhaura railway project would provide a major boost to development and economy of the northeastern region of India and eastern Bangladesh.

PM Modi discussed the railway project with PM Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June last year.

"India's external affairs ministry would provide necessary funds for the Bangladesh portion of the Agartala-Akhaura rail project. The DoNER ministry's funds would be spent for the Indian portion of the project," the Tripura minister said.

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.

Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.

After India's independence, Agartala is the first state capital of the country to come up on the rail map (meter gauge line) in October 2008.

source: NDTV

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