Union minister assures funds for India-Bangladesh rail project

Agartala, Oct 9 (IANS) Funding would not be a problem for the new India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura and once completed it would provide a major boost to the region’s development and economy, union Minister Jitendra Singh said here on Friday.

“Funds will not be a major problem for the Agartala-Akhaura railway project. The project will boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy,” the minister of state for the development of north eastern region (DoNER) told reporters.

“Completion of the new rail link with Bangladesh and conversion of the metre gauge track up to Agartala (Tripura capital) would give a major boost to region’s development and economy, besides improving connectivity with neighbouring countries,” he said.

Singh, who arrived here on Friday on a two-day visit, held meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and discussed various ongoing projects of DoNER ministry in the north-eastern state.

Five years after the Rs.575-crore India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura was finalised by the governments of the two countries, uncertainty prevails since no funds have been allocated so far.

The project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her then Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the project with Hasina during his visit to Dhaka in June.

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) general manager R.K. Gupta told reporters here on Sunday that it was not certain when the work on the India-Bangladesh rail project would begin.

“No funds have been allocated so far for the Agartala-Akhaura project. We will begin work immediately after the sanction of funds,” said Gupta, who visited Tripura to supervise ongoing railway projects in the state.

“Earlier, the DoNER ministry committed to provide funds to lay tracks on the Indian side. But recently, it categorically expressed its inability to give funds. The railway ministry was earlier considering providing funds for the Tripura part of the project, but has not taken a final decision yet,” an NFR official said.

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