The long-pending, 83-km rail link between Dhansiri in Assam and Zubza, near Nagaland’s capital Kohima may finally see the light of day with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) setting 2020 as deadline for completion of the project.
The project, which involves building nearly 190 bridges and almost 26 km of tunnels, has languished for 11 years and seen cost estimate rise from Rs 850 crore to Rs 3,000 crore. According to officials, the PMO took over monitoring of the project-—which will be completed in three phases—after it was informed that the project has logged only 8% progress since the UPA government approved it in 2006, and that land acquisition for it is only half done.
The Narendra Modi government aims to link all state capitals of the north-eastern region by rail. Progress of the Dhansiri-Zubza project is stuck due to land acquisition issues involving just 1.55 km in Assam. This has held up progress of phase 1 of the project—from Dhansiri to Sukhovi (16 km)—which was scheduled to be completed by December 2018.
The PMO has asked the Assam government to acquire the required land by December 15. The Nagaland government too has been directed to acquire and hand over the land required for the project by February 15, 2018. Land must be acquired for a 24-km stretch in Nagaland, the PMO was told.
The PMO has also directed the railways ministry and the two state governments to speed up execution of the project.