Agartala: Once a remote hamlet with just six families, Maddha Charipara — located about 12 km from state capital Agartala in Tripura — is slowly heading on a path to economic development.
The village falls near the starting point of the 15.054-km-long railway line connecting Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh and thereby improving connectivity and boosting trade between the two countries. The crucial project and will also connect West Bengal and Tripura via Bangladesh.
Nandarani Bhowmik, 60, said that they were all living under one village until the fencing work started for the railway line. Now, only six families remain on her side of the fence. “We all are very poor and basically farmers. We are happy that the railway line is crossing through our village and a piece of our land has come under their route. The authorities have taken around 12 gondas of land (10,368 sq ft) and in return, we have received a good amount to shift to the other side of the fence,” Bhowmik told EastMojo.
Once operational, the Agartala railway station in India would be connected to the Gangasagar station in Akhaura, Bangladesh through the meter-gauge railway track. Once Bangladesh switches to broad gauge, the tracks will be changed on the Indian part too.
Construction work began in 2017 by the Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON). The total length of the track would be around 15 km between Agartala-Akhaura railway stations, of which, on the Indian part, the track would be 5 km and the rest in the Bangladesh side. On both sides, the work is being done by IRCON.
Another villager, Firoza Begam (42), said that once the project starts and trade begins between the two countries, people living in the village are also likely to get some sort of employment.
Similarly, the lives of another 35-year old, Rina Akhtar, and her family members have changed overnight after 2.38 acres of land fell under the railway project. Akhtar received around Rs 1 crore from the government as compensation.
“The railway tracks will go through our house and we are lucky that in return of the land we are getting a good amount from the authorities. The land, which was of no use once is now worth crores. All thanks to the government for taking the initiative to develop the state and life of people living in this village. We are building a house on the other side of the fence and shall leave this place soon,” Akhtar said.
At present, six families are residing in the village behind the fence with 27 members, while one Akhtar Hussein has left for Saudi Arabia for work.
Talking to EastMojo, BSF’s Krishan Kumar said that instances of smuggling are very rare in this area, although at times throwing of contraband items is done from here.
“The number of people living in the village is just 27, and their movement in the area is restricted after 6 pm daily. We close the gates of the fence, but at times, if there is an emergency for the people living on the other side of the fence, we help them accordingly,” Kumar said.
After the project is completed, about 240 BSF personnel will be deployed in the area in addition to the high-level security to look after the movement of trains and people working on the project, Kumar added.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Raghuvansi, a junior engineer working with IRCON, said that the work is under process and the laying of railway tracks will begin as soon as monsoon ends.
Some tracks have arrived and some are on the way. “We will start the laying of the tracks after the end of Durga Puja in October. We are expecting the project to be completed by the end of 2020. The work on the Bangladesh side is being done under consultancy with their labours and machines,” he said.
“We are yet to receive all the land from the locals, since there are temples which need to be shifted somewhere else and the construction of accommodation for 240 BSF personnel costing Rs 23.6 crore is also being done,” he added.
We are yet to receive all the land from the locals, since there are temples which need to be shifted somewhere else and the constructions of accommodation for 240 BSF personnel costing Rs 23.6 crore is also being done here, he added.