February 25th, 2016
Image Source: nelive, thenortheasttoday
Blame it on its geographical seclusion or the lukewarm attitude of most governments, North-East India has been visibly lagging on the path of development which the rest of India has trodden. This has led to the rise in insurgent groups claiming control on the region, as well as the shameful racism which the people from the northeast faces in several parts of the country. But recently, some positive news has trickled down which promises hope and a bright future ahead. While the emergence of the smart village of Barsimaluguri in Assam which The Logical Indian reported few days ago was heartwarming, a recent announcement by the Railways Ministry is surely going to lighten up the spirits of the local people.
Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Special Express train
On Saturday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the Silchar-New Delhi Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Special Express train. The direct weekly train was inaugurated from the Silchar station in Cachar district of Southern Assam bordering Bangladesh. This is the first direct train not only from this district but also from the entire region of Barak valley which comprises of three districts of southern Assam. The region has had significance in India’s freedom struggle in the past, and currently forms the gateway to the states of Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur by road. The strategic importance of this 2,000 km long train route is, therefore, evident.
Suresh Prabhu reiterated the government’s commitment to connect the region to all parts of India, “North East has the capacity to contribute significantly to the nation’s development. But the region and people living in the states here need better connectivity to stay connected with the rest of India. It is a historic day for the people of Barak Valley who have long been waiting for better connectivity. We must turn our promises into performance.” He assured the gathering at the inauguration event that by 2020, all the state capitals of the Northeast will get direct trains to New Delhi. He added that Silchar will further get direct trains to Mumbai and Chennai soon.
Apart from the passenger train, two brand new Broad gauge freight trains were also flagged off – one between Badarpur in Southern Assam to Jirania in Tripura, and another from Badarpur to Jiribam in Manipur. Mr. Prabhu also declared that the Silchar- Agartala inter-city express and two passenger trains on Silchar-Guwahati and Silchar-Tinsukia routes will be started by April 14. All these attempts will go a long to improve inter-connectivity in the Seven Sister states and ensure harmony in the region.
While doubts could be raised on the timing of the inauguration considering that Assam is going for Assembly polls later this year, it must be noted that the main section of the train route was awaiting completion since 1996. The 210-km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project, which was declared a national project in 2004, had been initiated in 1996. Even if the project may have been expedited because of the political gains the BJP stands to make, the opportunities which this project can bring to the Northeast region seem like a good bargain. It is only when people mix amongst each other that the false preconceived notions break and a renewed sense of belonging to the nation emerges.
It is hoped that the train routes under construction get completed on time, and the people from Northeast as well as from the national capital make full use of the service to discover their brethren. The Logical Indian applauds the efforts of the Indian Railways to kickstart this important train route and hopes to see many such projects being completed on time in the coming years.
– Abhishek Mittal