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The Supreme Court has finally given green signal to the 45 km railway project from Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani with a team from the Railway Ministry, is due to travel to Sikkim on March 2 to inspect the infrastructural readiness of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

The Railway Ministry team will meet with the NFR officials to discuss issues like laying of tracks and building of tunnels to reach the Himalayan state.

The move is particularly significant as it comes after the 70-day stand-off at Doklam Plateau at the Indo-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction last year. This railway project, once finished will allow India to move its troops and goods faster into the region.

The foundation stone for the project was laid on October 30, 2009 by then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Rs 1,339 crore project which had a completion deadline of 2015 never saw the light of the day due to protests by environmental activists over concerns of speeding trains killing protected animals in the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary through which the tracks will pass.

However, a Supreme Court bench led by Justice T S Thakur approved the project in February 2016 with strict guidelines of the National Wildlife Board that cleared the project in June 2015.

They ordered restricted speed, wireless animal tracking sensors and allowed digging of tunnels only in daytime.

Currently Sikkim is connected to the rest of the country by the National Highway 10 which is prone to frequent landslides and blockades.

The Sikkim rail project will allow seamless movement to and from the state.

The nearest railway junction to the starting station would be New Jalpaiguri station, located 30 km from Sevoke.

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