By Staff REPORTER
ITANAGAR, Apr 01: Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday provided Indian Railways an opportunity to take trains to Himalayan heights. But China is not happy with the development that ‘might complicate’ the unresolved border issue.
Hours after Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha announced the commencement of the final location survey of three strategic broad gauge lines at Naharlagun Railway Station, Beijing asked Delhi to exercise ‘restraint’ on its plan to link the border district of Tawang with a railway network.
The 378 km Bhalukpong-Tenga-Tawang line is the most ambitious of the three proposed tracks. The other two are the 247.85 km North Lakhimpur-Bame-Aalo-Silapathar and the 227 km Pasighat-Tezu-Parsuram Kund-Rupai lines.
“We hope that the Indian side can exercise caution, show restraint and refrain from unilateral actions that might further complicate the question so as to create a sound condition for enhancing mutual trust between China and India and promoting proper resolution of the boundary question,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“China’s position on eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear. At present, the two sides are working to resolve the territorial dispute through negotiation and consultation,” the ministry told PTI in a written reply following a query about reports that India was exploring possibilities to link Tawang with a railway network.
But Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) officials said the new projects in Arunachal Pradesh were in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of expanding railway connectivity in the landlocked region.
“The three proposed lines will improve connectivity to northern and eastern frontiers of Arunachal Pradesh and will help from security point of view besides accelerating socio-economic development of the people,” Sinha, accompanied by Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, said.
Stating that the Centre was attaching top priority to the Northeast, Sinha said that the NDA government allocated Rs 5,886-crore for development of railway connectivity in the region and was committed to connecting all states with broad gauge line by 2020.
He said a realistic cost assessment can be done only after completion of final location surveys but the three projects are expected to cost about Rs 70,000-crore.
“Though the survey for Pasighat-Tezu-Parshuram Kund-Rupai project could be completed within a short time, the Bhalukpong-Tenga-Tawang and North Lakhimpur-Bame-Aalo-Silapathar projects will take time due to hostile terrain,” Sinha said, adding modern technique would be adopted to overcome the challenging terrain.
NFR (Construction) would be conducting the survey, which is expected to be completed by October 2020.
Sinha later said he would look into a proposal submitted by Urban Development Minister Nabam Rebia for introduction of goods and long-distance passenger train between Naharlagun and Bangalore, Rajdhani Express status to the weekly AC express train and land acquisition for expansion of railways at Borum (Naharlagun).
He also said that the railway ministry had sanctioned Reconnaissance Engineering Cum Traffic Survey (RETS) for eight new lines in the state for a total length
of about 625 km. The new lines include, Itakhola to Seijosa (18 km), Doomdooma to Wakro via Simaluguri, Namsai and Chiwkham (96 kms) Dangri to Roing (60 km) Naharkatia-Deomali (20 km), Lekhapani-Nampong-New Khamlang-Deben (75 km) and Tinsukia to Pasighat via Kanubari, Deomali, Lekhapani, Jairampur, Kharsang, Miao, Diyun, Tezu, Bhismaknagar, Roing and Dambuk (300 km) respectively.
Sinha, who also holds the independent charge of communication ministry, informed that under the Bharat Net scheme, his ministry has proposed mobile connectivity 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in phased manner. The first phase covers 1 lakh panchayats and laying of optical fibres and other requirements have been completed.
The minister later convened a meeting with BSNL and other telecom service providers and held discussion on improving mobile and internet connectivity in the state under Digital India scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
State Industry Minister Tamiyo Taga, RD Minister Alo Libang, PWD Parliamentary Secretary Techi Kaso, Chief Secretary Shakuntala Doley Gamlin and BJP state president Tapir Gao were present on the occasion. (With PTI)