Guwahati: Notwithstanding frequent bandh calls and incidents of kidnapping of railway officials, the crucial broad gauge conversion project linking Arunachal Pradesh and North Assam with rest of the country is set to be completed next year.
The 510 km long Rangiya-Murkongselek line conversion from metre gauge to broad gauge in Assam, a national project, is to completed by March 2013, said a senior Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official involved with the project.
Situated 48 kms from Guwahati, Rangiya is an important sub-divisional town of Assam and a junction of the NFR. The rail link to Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of India is through Rangiya junction. One of the road links to Bhutan is also via Rangiya.
Describing the prevailing condition as "challenging", the official said, "There have been cases of kidnapping of railway officials and contractors by suspected militants which has affected the progress of works."
He said due to the prevailing security scenario, no major firm from outside the region is willing to work in Northeast region.
"It is quite challenging as there is a dearth of good and resourceful contractors in Northeast region. The frequent bandh calls given by various groups also affect the execution of work," he said.
Besides there is also scarcity of skilled and technical manpower and construction material like cement and steel in the NE region.
The 510 km long gauge conversion project was declared as a national project in 2007. While the total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 1717.29 crore, it has incurred an expenditure of upto Rs 1073.81 crore till March 12.
The official said, "The project is being executed in three parts - Rangiya to Rangapara North, Rangapara North to North Lakhimpur and North Lakhimpur to Murkongselek."
All train services were suspended along the Rangiya-Murkongselek line in Assam for its conversion from metre to broad gauge under the railways massive rail expansion programme.
The train services are expected to resume on the broad gauge route by March 2013.