A day after resigning from Tripura Assembly to retain her portfolio at the Centre, Union Minister of State for Social Empowerment and Justice Pratima Bhoumik met Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday in New Delhi and discussed a host of issues, including the expedition of Agartala-Akhaura railway link.
Bhoumik received assurances from Vaishnaw that the route connecting Agartala with Kolkata via Bangladesh will be commissioned this year, a statement her office read.
Bhoumik also discussed adding a stop at Pecharthal station in North Tripura – a small but crucial station in the northern part of the state, construction of footbridges near Jogendranagar area, Mekhlipara tea garden at Khayerpur and several other areas in the outskirts of Agartala to facilitate ease in the transportation of tea, goods and passenger transport.
The statement from Bhoumik’s office also said Railway Minister Vaishnaw assured her to fulfill all the demands raised before him and said he would consider issuing vendor-specific licenses to hawkers on trains in Tripura.
The 15-kilometer-long Agartala-Akhaura railway would link Bangladesh’s Akhaura through an international immigration station at Nischintapur along the Indo-Bangla border. With the project’s completion, the travel time between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka would be reduced from 31 hours to 10 hours.
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Akhaura served as a railway link for Agartala during the British era. The proposal for the Agartala-Akhaura railway project first came in 2010. Three years later, both India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) for the railway project.
The project was due for completion in 2020 but was delayed because of land acquisition issues and the Covid-19 pandemic. It is one of the many ambitious connectivity projects of Tripura with Bangladesh, many of which have already been commissioned, such as the inland waterways connectivity project at Sepahijala district and Indo-Bangla Maitri Bridge at South Tripura.
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While Bhoumik was not sworn in as an MLA yet, she resigned as Dhanpur MLA, where she won with a margin of 3,500 votes this year, as per instructions from her party.