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Bangla rail link cost set at $24m

Agartala, Jun 25 : Work on the 15km railway link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria district is likely to cost $24 million, according to initial estimates.

Amzad Hossain, additional director-general of Bangladesh Railway, who is part of the delegation from the neighbouring country, revealed the figure.

The team headed by the joint secretary in the country’s railway ministry, Sunil Chandra Paul, arrived here last Tuesday to hold discussion on the progress of the project with their Indian counterparts led by Alak Kumar Sinha, joint secretary in the Union railway ministry.

The two teams have been constituted to oversee matters relating to land acquisition and construction of tracks on both sides.

Hossain said land acquisition was a major problem in smooth implementation of the project. “We may confront some problems in rehabilitating a section of traders and people earning their livelihood in the area to be acquired but that will be taken care of,” he said.

“In case of delay in implementation, the cost may escalate but we will make every effort to ensure timely and speedy completion of work,” he added.

The two teams held their third meeting here recently and visited the Agartala station and the proposed station at Nishchindipur within Indian territory.

The teams also met state transport minister Manik Dey and apprised him of the project’s progress.

Official sources in the transport department here said the delegations expressed the hope that the land acquisition on both sides would be completed by the end of July and then work can commence in full swing.

Dey requested the Indian and Bangladesh delegations to ensure speedy implementation of the project in the interests of the people of both countries.

The railway link will connect Agartala station in India with Akhaura Junction in Bangladesh to facilitate linkage between Agartala and Calcutta across Bangladesh territory.

The two connecting stations within India and Bangladesh are Nischindipur and Gangasagar respectively.

The Indian government is financing the project.

Before Partition, Tripura’s link with the rest of India was through erstwhile East Bengal (now Bangladesh).

But after Independence, the linkage had been blocked and New Delhi had to build National Highway 44 to link Tripura with the rest of the country through Assam, Meghalaya and north Bengal.