With the aim of enhancing rail connectivity in the Northeast, Indian Railways has put its act together in expediting the 111 km long jiribam-Imphal new line project in Manipur.
The capital of Manipur is expected to be connected by rail in the next two years and thereby reducing the travel time between Jiribam and Imphal to two-and-a-half hours from the current 12 hours drive.
The new broad gauge railway line project at an estimated cost of over Rs 14,000 crore involves 46 tunnels including a 12-km single tube tunnel, which is the second longest in Indian Railways network, and 153 bridges.
One of the bridges, Noney Bridge, which is under construction, is slated to become the world's tallest rail bridge on piers as two out of the seven piers will be of 141 meters each. The other piers vary between 50 meters to 90 meters.
Currently, Mala-Rijeka viaduct on Belgrade-Bar railway line in Europe is the tallest where the height of pillars is 139 meters.
Though the crucial 111-km Jiribam (Assam border) to Imphal new line project has been delayed due to several reasons, now the Northeast Frontier Railway has accelerated the work to complete it within the revised timeline.
The project was first sanctioned and included in the 2004-05 Budget. The detailed estimate was sanctioned in 2013 and work was bid out subsequently.
But the project faced several obstacles including delay in land acquisition and the first contract had to be terminated after the private player, who had bagged the project, ran into financial problems.
It was again bid out last year.
This rail link is crucial as nearly 70 per cent of Manipur's population lives in Imphal and at a later stage, this railway line may be extended till Myanmar border for the proposed Trans-Asia railway line.
The line passing through difficult terrain will also become a new lifeline for Imphal, which is now primarily dependent on the road network for getting essential supplies.
Besides the economic and social benefits associated with the project, it is going to be an engineering marvel for the Railways.
According to the Railways, the connectivity to Imphal is part of the government’s move to connect all the capitals of North Eastern states by rail with the rest of the country.
There are challenges like poor road network and mobilisation of heavy machines and also barely five months’ working season in a year.
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