India-Bangla train link, a dream project

Nischintapur (West Tripura): A train from this sleepy Indian village crossing the international zero line and entering Bangladesh is the dream of Daghu Miah. Miah, a septuagenarian peasant, does not have any objection to his paddy field being acquired for the proposed railway station linking the two countries, though his land is the only means of livelihood for him and the families of his three sons.

Railways officials have made visits and marked 12 bighas of land with the maximum amount belonging to Miah. He, however, is apprehensive whether the Railways will provide him the proper value for the land.

"I will have no problem if I can manage to procure the same amount of land elsewhere with the compensation given by Railways. But, I fear the money given during acquisition may not be enough," he told PTI.

The Indian Railways recently approved Rs 267 crore for laying a 14 km railway track to connect Agartala, Tripura`s capital, with Akhaura in Bangladesh. The Northeastern Frontier Railway (NFR) is likely to undertake work for laying tracks by October next year, Special Secretary to Transport department Kishore Ambuly said.

While the Department of North Eastern region (DoNER) ministry will pay Rs 105 crore for construction of the railway line on the Indian side, the Ministry of External Affairs will provide the rest to carry out the project in Bangladesh.

Mubarak Miah, another resident, is eagerly counting the days to meet friends in Bangladesh. Mubarak said that the proposed railway link would bring the people of the village, Shivnagar, to the mainstream.

"We will have employment and will be connected with the people of the mainland through Bangladesh," he said. Asked if he was ready to provide land for proposed railway station adjacent to his dwelling place, Mubarak said "If land is required why shall I oppose it? But they pay at least 10% less than the normal rate. Still I would say yes. This will benefit the country."

President of the Tripura Chamber of Commerce, M L Debnath said, the Agartala?Akhaura link would shorten the distance between Kolkata and Agartala from 1675 km to 350 km, and boost trade, commerce and tourism between Bangladesh and India.