Even as railway services to and from Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur remain suspended in the aftermath of the Dima Hasao floods, there is some good news for people in these regions. The Railway Board has sanctioned the Final Location Survey (FLS) of the Silchar-Lanka alternate rail route via Chandranathpur in the Cachar district.

Lanka is a small commercial town located in the Hojai district of Assam.

There have been increased demands for a rail network, bypassing the landslide-prone Badarpur-Lumding hill section in the Dima Hasao district, given recent floods. Visuals that have now gone viral show railway tracks either inundated or completely washed away by floods at several locations in the region.

“The recent flood in Assam and unprecedented landslides in the hill district of Dima Hasao have ravaged the rail section with damages at least in 60 locations. 10-11 such locations are some critical areas where restoration is going on, in full swing,” NF Railway Chief Public Relations Officer, Sabyasachi De said.

The railway board, on Thursday, in a letter to the General Manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, said, “Sanction of the ministry of railways is hereby communicated to the Final Location Survey of Lanka to Silchar via Chandranathpur (208) km new line at a cost of 43.23 crore.”

Restoration in full swing at Dima Hasao station 

The restoration work to re-build the railway infrastructure damaged in the landslide-hit Dima Hasao district of Assam has been going on a war-footing basis. The railways cancelled trains in the section till July 1.

Senior railway officials and construction engineers are camping at damaged locations and overseeing the work round the clock, hoping to complete the work by the first week of July, subject to favourable weather.

The Lumding-Badarpur rail section, which maneuvres through challenging terrains of NC hills, acts as a lifeline for Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur, and Barak Valley of Assam.

The central government has sanctioned Rs 180 crore for the railway line’s restoration. “We have started the restoration works and it will be costing around Rs 180 crore. We are targeting to complete the restoration soon,” CPRO said.

Sources added that earthmovers and other machinery have been mobilised for the damaged locations. 

The recent flash floods have exposed the loopholes in the existing railway infrastructure, where railways spent heavily every year to renovate the damages caused by the natural calamities. Activists cite haphazard and unscientific development in the Dima Hasao district for the recent mudslides that have devastated the area.

The supply chains of essential commodities in the three northeastern states have been seriously impacted due to the disruption of the rail service. PSU major Indian Oil Corporation has now planned to transport fuel to Tripura through Bangladesh.

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