Indian Railways, besides incurring additional costs, has had to confront unique challenges in laying tracks in the mountainous northeastern region due to its topography, soil and natural challenges, according to Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS-NE Circle) Shailesh Kumar Pathak.
Pathak who was in Agartala, the capital of Tripura on Wednesday, the landscape, soil conditions and other natural challenges forced the railways to spend much more money and to confront diverse challenges in the northeastern region, comprising eight hilly states.
He maintained that compared to the northeastern region, the spending and the challenges are much less in the mainland states after examining newly-laid railway tracks in Tripura.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), one among the 17 railway zones in India, is responsible for extending the railway lines and maintaining train services in seven districts of West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim.
Pathak, a senior engineer of the Civil Aviation Ministry also said that the NFR gets to work at optimum pace for only four to five months a year as the region records intense rain from March to end-October with the actual monsoon running from June to September.
He further added that in the other states of the country, the good working season is for at least eight months.
He also said that the northeastern states and large parts of the Himalayan region are siltation and landslide-prone areas.
The Railways has to take extra precautions to deal with the natural adversities in the region.
According to the official, the per-kilometre expenditure of laying single-line tracks in the northeastern region is Rs 9 to 12 crore while it is Rs 5 to 6 crore in the plains. Laying a double-line track in the northeast costs Rs 20 to 25 crores per kilometre against Rs 10 to 15 crore in the plains.
The top officials further remarked that land acquisition, forest clearances, syndicate trouble and finding skilled workers are the other impediments in the northeastern and eastern region.
He also disclosed that the NFR has been trying hard to extend the railway lines in three remaining capital cities of northeast India, excluding Meghalaya’s Shillong and Sikkim’s Gangtok, by 2020.