All Central sector infrastructure projects in Assam are going on at a sluggish pace due to varied reasons -the prime among them being natural calamities and legal issues. These points were raised by top officials of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Oil India Limited (OIL) in a review meeting held at Nedfi House in Guwahati on Thursday in the presence of Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India.
The minister also questioned the officials as to why the projects were not being completed within the time-frame fixed. The NHAI officials apprised the minister that in Assam’s Dima Hasao district progress of work in the under-construction 141 km national highway was being frequently disrupted due to landslides and the work which was supposed to be completed in 2015 is yet to be over. The officials also informed that out of the 619 km of roads in other parts of the State, 607 km stretch of roads has been completed.
The NHAI officials further informed the minister that due to vociferous protests in the State, they were not being able to set up toll gates as a result of which the Assam Government was losing out on revenue to the tune of Rs 20 to 25 crore in a year. The NF Railway officials informed that the 176 km length double track work on the Bongaigaon-Goalpara-Kamakhya stretch is going on at a “snail’s pace”. The officials also informed that to carry out the double track work, they are facing a lot of hurdles while trying to obtain permission to acquire private land. Since the railway track is also falling in the forest area, obtaining permission is a “tough task”. However, the Railway officials informed that the double track work of the said stretch would be completed by 2022.
The Railway officials also told the minister that the Tetelia-Burnihat rail track work off Guwahati is progressing “very slowly” in various places as the same is mired in a lot of legal wrangles. Goel was also made to know that work in various points of the 5 km rail track which passes through the Deepor Beel has also been stalled as the elephant corridor also passes through it and there have been many incidents of elephants being mowed to death by speeding trains.
Goel also reviewed the ‘Augmentation of Pumping Capacity of Barauni-Bongaigaon (PS – 7&9) phase III project being implemented by OIL. Once completed, it would enable Guwahati Refinery to receive more imported crude for processing purposes. The cost of the project is Rs 571.66 crore with the completion scheduled in December 2019. The project is running as per schedule and no constraints are being faced. The minister complimented the officers of OIL and asked them to complete the project within the given time-frame.
Post the review meeting, a press conference was held, in which the minister informed the media persons that presently in Assam, 44 Central sector projects were going on in Assam under Central agencies and for that Rs 50,000 crore of funds has been earmarked. Out of the Rs 50,000 crore, Rs 20,000 crore has been used.
The minister assured the NHAI and NF Railway officials that the Centre would extend “all support possible” to remove the impediments being faced by these personnel while carrying out developmental works in the State and also directed the State Government to take adequate steps in this regard. While concluding the review meeting, the minister stated that timely execution of Central sector projects is critical for the overall economic and social development of the State.
Though the Sonowal Government had declared while coming to power that toll gates would be done away in the State, but now it has gone back on its decision. On being asked about this, Goel tried to evade the question.