Gorkhatimes

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Ansari lays foundation for Sikkim rail link

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 31, 2009

Rangpo (Sikkim), Oct 30 (IANS): Initiating the process of bringing Sikkim onto the country’s railway map, Vice-President Hamid Ansari Friday laid the foundation stone of the Rs.1,400 crore project for a rail link connecting this inter-state border town in East Sikkim to Sevoke in West Bengal.
Describing the project as creating an engineering history for the railways, the vice-president said it was a “significant milestone” in providing railway connectivity to the state. He said the project would be an “eye-opener” for similar projects to be developed in the entire northeast.

“The government is fully aware of the need to significantly upgrade road, rail and air connectivity in the entire northeastern region. Many initiatives have been undertaken in this regard. The Sevoke-Rangpo broad gauge line is one such,” Ansari said in his address.

Establishing rail connectivity would not only lead to further economic development but also increase the number of tourists coming to the state, he said, and hoped the project would be completed in time.

“It is also gratifying that further extension of this line from Rangpo to Gangtok is being planned and the survey for the same has been carried out,” Ansari added.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said her ministry would ensure that the project was completed within the scheduled time frame of five years.

Assuring the people that the project would receive her “personal attention”, Banerjee said the link will cover 52.7 km with 13 tunnels and 110 small and large bridges. More than 12 km of the link will run through tunnels, the longest of which is 1.814 km.

“This project is significant as it shall connect one of the border states like Sikkim to the Indian mainstream, which is a challenge in itself. I will ensure that the ministry takes up many such challenges so that states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh get connected with the rest of India,” she said.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling urged the railway minister to consider taking the railway link up to Nathula “which would make the project even more special for the country and its developmental process.”

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