By A O News Service
ITANAGAR, Jan 04: Lack of proper road and rail connectivity from Bhalukpong to Tawang, located along Indo-China border, was undeniably the primary cause for defeat of Indian Army during 1962 Chinese War. Keeping this mind, the Defence Ministry has identified four strategic rail lines along the India-China border, as informed to Lok Sabha by MoS (Railways) Rajen Gohain.
Responding to a written question, Gohain had informed that those four strategic lines along are: 378-km Missamari-Tenga-Tawang, 498-km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh, 227-km Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai and 249-km North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar.
“Ministry of Defence has provided funds to Ministry of Railways for carrying out final location surveys (FLS) of these four identified strategic lines and Ministry of Railways has taken up these FLS.
“The undulating terrain of young Himalayas and difficult geological conditions are affecting the pace of survey undertaken,” Gohain had said, adding all Govt agencies working in the area and having specialisation in survey in these difficult geographical areas are meeting regularly for early completion of these surveys.
However, the railways, has set a target of completing FLS of Missamari-Tenga-Tawang, Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai and North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar lines by 2019 after the projects received the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) nod, officials had said.
The railways has received Rs 47.18 crore from the Defence Ministry for the FLS and target for Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line was December 2018 and December 2019 deadline for the other two lines to take up construction on priority. However, the construction engineers of NFR despite several attempts could not be reached to know about the status of Pasighat-Rupai line FLS.
These three are extremely difficult terrains and we have to deal with unstable and high mountains. In places such as the Sela Pass in Missamari-Tenga-Tawang line, it is 13,700 feet high,” NFR chief administrative officer (construction) A K Yadav said.
He added that the field survey for Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line in the plains was in advanced stages, but for the other two projects which are on difficult hilly terrain, terms of reference have been finalised after preliminary investigations, he said.
The Missasamari-Tenga-Tawang line, which Yadav said was the most treacherous of all, will be the most expensive at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore and will consist of 80% tunnels. The cost of its location survey has been pegged at Rs 100.73 crore. The FLS of other two collectively is at an estimated Rs 87.5 crore.
“We want the line to be operational through the year, despite the snow,” said Yadav, adding that the three lines are of 853-km with 58-km in Assam and 795-km in Arunachal Pradesh.
However, 498-km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, approved by the CCS, the FLS at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has began.
At a height of 3,300 metres, the 498-km long stretch is set to become the highest rail track in the world, overtaking China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
The preliminary estimate of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for construction of four strategic railway lines was provided by the railways, and a Steering Committee under the Secretary (Expenditure) in Finance Ministry was formed to look for ways to finance the construction. These four ‘priority’ lines are part of 14 strategic lines which were identified for development in November 2010, among the 28 railway lines in the China and Pakistan border areas approved ‘in principle’ by the Defence Minister in January 2010.(Agency)