Sunday, February 26, 2012

Centre permits gauge conversion construction through Barail Sanctuary

The Union ministry of environment and forests gave its nod to continue the construction of the 214-km Lumding-Silchar broad gaugeBarail Sanctuary in Dima Hasao district recently. The Dima Hasao DFO had stopped the construction of the project in 2008 as the railway department did not have the permission of the ministry for construction through the sanctuary. The ministry of environment and forest gaveits nod last week and conveyed its decision to its Assam counterpart and the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authorities.

According to the order signed by the conservator of forests (C) of the Shillong-based northeast regional office of the concerned Union ministry, the Railways can now go ahead with the construction work across an area of 3.6 hectares through the sanctuary. The state government also sent a copy of the order to the chief conservator of forests, Dima Hasao, in Haflong.

According to the clauses of the permission, NFR has to pay a sum of Rs 3,048,136 to the Assam forest department before going on with the project so that the Assam environment and forest department can carry out afforestation in 7.2 hectares of land of the Barail reserve forests, in line with the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

Sources say that the nod for construction will go a long way in ensuring that the work for the broad gauge project, the foundation for which was laid in 1996, is completed by December, 2013 and commissioned by January, 2014 in accordance with the NFR plan. NFR had earlier announced that the project will be completed by 2006 and then 2009 and again by 2012. The project has been a victim of 'logistical problems' in the past years, sources said.

The authorities said the construction of the longest tunnel in the section, tunnel 10, with a length of 3,235 metres, has started from both sides and is expected to be completed by October, 2013.

The Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam-Badarpur-Kumarghat gauge conversion project, which is 368.46 km long, was sanctioned in 1996-97. The project, costing Rs 4,073.50 crore, was declared a national project in 2004.

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