GUWAHATI: Policy makers want to keep Assam and Manipur out of the principal route of the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) network promoted by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The network is being constructed to boost trade and cultural exchanges within Asia and between Asia and Europe.
The TAR is a 17,500-km long railway line passing through 28 member countries and has been described by UNESCAP as “Yesterday’s Silk Road”.
The idea was conceived in 1992 following political and economic changes in the region. The network will be fully ready after construction of the missing links between countries and connecting the existing tracks within the member countries.
The east-west corridor that traverses through India originates at the easternmost part in Istanbul in Turkey and will pass through Iran right till the Afghanistan border from where the missing link will be constructed to connect Islamabad. The existing tracks from Islamabad to New Delhi will be a part of the network, which travels eastwards to Kolkata and Dhaka.
Indian policy makers now want to bypass the areas in Assam and Manipur. According to the new proposal, Dhaka should be connected to Jawahar Nagar in north Tripura, which is south of Mahisasan from where new lines will be laid to proceed towards Sairang in Mizoram from where it would be connected to an existing line at Ka Lay in Myanmar.
“The UNESCAP plan is not final and there is room for modification. For a hassle-free rail communication without bandhs and violence, Tripura and Mizoram are better choices than Assam and Manipur. We plan to have Assam and Manipur connected to the network by trunk routes and trouble in these two states will not hamper traffic on the main TAR network,” a source said.
A construction official of the Northeast Frontier Railways said, “As of now, we are going ahead with the original Trans Asian Railway plan. A survey for connecting Imphal with Tamu is on, but it is frequently hit by trouble in Manipur. Though not final, an alternative route of 257 km from north Tripura’s Jawahar Nagar railway station to Kolashib in northern Mizoram and Myanmar’s Darlon via Sairang has been proposed to connect with this mega network.”
On the Myanmar side, there is already an operational railway line from Ka Lay to Yangoon and further down to Dawei, which is being connected to Bangkok.