Authorities working to restore rail service in north-east

Agartala, June 10 (IANS) Authorities are working on a war-footing to restore rail traffic that has remained disrupted for nearly a month in southern Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and western Manipur due to incessant rain and subsequent landslides.

Tripura Bharatiya Janata Party President Biplab Deb said on Friday that Assam Public Works Department (Roads and Highways) Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya too had assured him of all steps to help restore road traffic in the region at the earliest, disrupted due to damage to National Highway-8.

The railway line and national highways pass through southern Assam to connect Tripura, Mizoram and western Manipur with the rest of India to supply foodgrains, fertilisers, petroleum products, construction material and other essential commodities.

Tripura is the worst affected as the 585-km National Highway 8 — its only connection with the rest of India through Assam and Meghalaya — was severely damaged in adjoining southern Assam.

About a 20-km stretch between Lower Powa in Assam and Churaibari in northern Tripura has turned into a slushy field after the downpour.

According to Tripura government officials, due to the damage to National Highway-8, hundreds of oil tankers, goods-laden trucks and other vehicles have been stranded in Lower Powa area in southern Assam.

Disruption in rail and road traffic has led to prices of essential commodities soaring in the region.

“We are trying to restore the rail line within a week. Our workers and engineers are working round-the-clock to restore rail service,” Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Administrative Officer Ajit Pandit told IANS over phone.

He said :”We have roped in engineers from Austria as well as other parts of India to use their expertise at the trouble spots. We are using all options to open the vital railway route soon.”

After removal of debris and repair of railway tracks, goods trains from Guwahati to Tripura, Mizoram and southern Assam were operated in the past two days on an experimental basis though conditions were still not conducive for running passenger trains on the route.

“Clearing huge mudslides apart from boulders from a large portion of the tracks at Fidhing and 11 other places in Dima Hasao district (in Assam) is a huge task,” Pandit added.

Huge landslides damaged railway tracks first on April 27. Rail traffic was restored on May 6, only to be disrupted again from May 13 in Assam’s Dima Hasao district.



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