Although NFR has been able to made head ways to all the NE states with rail connectivity; Sikkim is still left out of the Indian Railway map. Work for providing rail connectivity was sanctioned for Sikkim way back in the year 2008-09, the work could not make much headway due to various environment related issues as the proposed railway line will pass through the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary.
This is a national project and is very important for overall development of the state of Sikkim. Once completed it is expected to boost connectivity of the land locked state which shares its border with three neighboring countries, viz. China, Nepal and Bhutan apart from being strategically important. Rail connectivity will also provide a reliable and economical transportation infrastructure.
Total length of the complete project is 44.96 kms of which 41.55 kms falls in West Bengal and 3.41 kms falls in Sikkim. The anticipated project cost will be around Rs. 8,900 Crs of which about Rs 335.52 Crs have already been utilized till last month. Budget allotment for 2020-21 is 607 Crores. IRCON (Indian Railway Construction Company) International Ltd on behalf of NFR is carrying out the construction work of the project. There will be 14 tunnels, 5 stations (Sivok, Riyang, Teesta Bazar, Melli and Rangpo) and 13 bridges in the section.
The entire section is being constructed by using latest technology so that train can run at a speed of 100 kmph. There will be 38555 meters of tunneling work involved in the entire projects. This is more than 92% of the entire project length. Work is already in progress in various sections.
However due to difficult terrain and prolonged rainy season work often gets affected. Moreover, the work got affected from March, 202 to May, 2020 due to COVID 19 related restrictions. The likely date of completion of the project is December, 2022.
Report by Prakash, Special Correspondent Tripura