New Delhi: The railways is set to link Sikkim's capital Gangtok to capitals of all northeastern states by March 2022, a senior official said on Wednesday.
With this linkage, all the seven northeastern state capitals will be connected to the national railway network, the railways official added.
The capitals of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura have been already been connected by broad gauge rail network.
Work on new broad gauge lines has been taken up to connect the other state capitals – Meghalaya (Shillong), Manipur (Imphal), Nagaland (Kohima), Mizoram (Aizawl) – which is expected to be completed by 2020.
In Sikkim, the project has been riddled with land acquisition issues. The project of laying a broad gauge line from Sivok to Rangpo of length 45 km was sanctioned in 2008-09, however, the project has been in limbo since then with just 19 per cent of work being completed so far, officials said.
"There are land acquisition issues and the extremely challenging terrain in the entire northeast which we have to deal with while taking on such projects. However, we have already completed 45 per cent of the work in projects of the northeast. We hope to bring Sikkim on the national railways' map by March 2022," said a senior official.
Among the most significant of the ongoing projects is the 111 km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal line, 64 per cent of which has been completed so far will not only put the Manipur capital on the railway map in the next couple of years but also prepare grounds for taking the railways to Moreh on the Myanmar border and beyond to become part of the proposed Trans-Asian Railway.
A 10 km section from Jiribam-Vaingaichungpao has already been completed.
In Mizoram's capital Aizawl, the Bhairabi-Sairang 51.38 km line has been 58.43 per cent completed, while in Nagaland's capital Kohima, the railways has made a progress of 25.23 per cent in the Dimapur-Zubza 82.5 km line.
In Shillong, Meghalaya, the Tetelia Byrnihat 21.50 km line has seen a progress of 40 per cent while a 10 km section from Tetelia-Kamlajari has been completed.
Another line in the state, the 108.40 km Byrnihat-Shillong line has only seen progress of around 5 per cent.