Silchar (Assam), Sep 16: A non-political civic group led by intellectuals and social workers Monday called for a 12-hour shutdown Sep 24 in southern Assam, demanding early completion of ongoing rail projects in the northeastern India.
The strike has been called by the Broad Gauge Railway Line Implementation Agitation Samity (BGRLIAS) in three districts of Assam’s southern Barak Valley region – Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi.
The proposed strike may disrupt rail services in Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur besides Assam.
“Due to utter negligence of the central government, rail connectivity in the northeastern region has made very poor progress. The rail network is dependent on over 100-year-old tracks laid during the British rule,” group convener Ajoy Roy told reporters here.
“Despite assurances by several prime ministers and other central leaders and after numerous agitations, the extension of rail networks and their target dates get delayed year after year,” he said.
On Aug 7, over 5,000 members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India and Tribal Youth Federation — both youth wings of the Communist Party of India-Marxist — staged a demonstration at the Northeast Frontier Railway headquarters in Guwahati.
The protestors demanded early completion of delayed rail projects in the entire northeastern region.
In January 1996, the then prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda laid the foundation stone for conversion of the Lumding-Agartala metre-gauge track to broad gauge.
According to railway officials, the cost of the gauge conversion project has escalated to Rs.2,800 crore from Rs.648 crore in 1996.
The broad gauge railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district, connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam with the rest of India by a single 109-year-old metre-gauge track.
Agartala is one of the newest stations of the Indian Railways, and came up on the map in October 2008.