Agartala: The Railway Ministry will execute 491 projects in seven northeastern states at a cost of ₹6.48 lakh crore, Lok Sabha member from Tripura Pratima Bhowmik said on Thursday quoting Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
Bhowmik in a statement from New Delhi said that Goyal in his reply to her question in Parliament on Wednesday said that 189 new railway lines, 55 gauge conversion and 247 doubling projects are in different stages of planning, approval, execution in the states.
The total length of these projects is 48,861 km. The total expenditure on the projects upto March this year is ₹1.43 lakh crore and length commissioned is 9,113 km, Bhowmik quoted Goyal as saying.
Goyal said that by 2021-22 fiscal, all the railway lines in the seven northeastern states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura - would be electrified.
The Minister said that the timely completion of any railway project depends on various factors like quick land acquisition by state government, forest clearance, shifting of infringing utilities (both underground and over ground) and statutory clearances from various authorities, among others.
"In the overall interest of the nation and to ensure that projects are completed in time without cost overrun, lot of monitoring is done in railways at various levels."
"To ensure that projects are completed even before time, railways has adopted the concept of incentives to the contractor in the form of bonus," the Railway Minister said.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), one among the 17 railway zones in India, is responsible for extending the railway lines and maintaining train services in seven districts of West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim.
An official of NFR said that the railway authority has been trying to extend the railway lines in three remaining capital cities of northeast India - Imphal (Manipur), Aizawl (Mizoram) and Kohima (Nagaland) -- excluding Meghalaya's Shillong and Sikkim's Gangtok, by 2020.
Assam's main city of Guwahati, Tripura's capital Agartala and Arunachal's capital Itanagar already linked with the railway network.