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Connecting Tawang At 10,000 Feet, Indian Railways Aims To Scale New Heights

Northeast Frontier Railway plans to take trains deep into Arunachal Pradesh.

05/02/2017 1:12 PM IST | Updated 05/02/2017 5:31 PM IST
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The Buddhist gateway into Tawang on Highway 229.

The Ministry of Railways is planning an ambitious project to connect some of the most remote corners of India's Northeast to the rest of the country, according to reports.

A railway line to Tawang, located at an elevation of 10,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh, along India's border with China, is being considered, alongside connecting Bamey and Pasighat to the rest of the country, Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told the media. Arunachal Pradesh is often claimed by China as part of its territory, in a running dispute with India.

The survey work for the project, which is estimated to cost ₹50,000-70,000 crore, is expected to begin next year. Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) general manager for construction HK Jaggi told The Times of India that the Bhalukpung-Tawang line would be the most difficult to construct as it would pass through an area where the altitudes range from 500 feet to 9,000 feet, reaching above 13,000 feet at Sela, the highest point in the region. The survey is expected to chart a route that will not be impeded by such heights.

The Union Budget 2017-18, in which the Railway Budget was also presented for the first time in 92 years, has sanctioned surveys for the construction of new lines. These will include routes from Doom Dooma to Wakro via Simalguri, Namsai and Chowkham (running for 96 km), Dangri to Roing (60 km), Lekhapani to Deban via Nampong (75 km) and from Tinsukia to Pasighat via Deomali Lekhapani, Jairampur, Kharsang Miao, Roing and Dambuk (300km), according to the Economic Times.

According to Gohain, the total plan outlay for NFR has been increased by 24%, from ₹7,620 crore in the 2016-17 fiscal to ₹9,422 crore. Allocation for projects in Assam and some other northeastern states was also increased to ₹5,586 crore compared to the ₹5,340 crore allotted in 2016-17, according to figures in The Financial Express. The NFR's work in Manipur, however, has been affected by the ongoing blockade in the state, giving a major setback to the railways, Gohain added.

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