After approving a plan to lay down railway tracks in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian railway ministry is all set to include the Andaman and Nicobar islands in its networks.
The ministry, on Monday, gave a head nod to develop a 240-km broad gauge railway line which will connect Diglipur, the largest town on the North Andaman Island with Port Blair, the capital of the union territory, with bridges and stations along the coast. The project is said to be the first in the country that will bring the archipelago (group of islands) on the rail map.
Diglipur to Port Blair via roadways
The project is said to be advantageous to the Union Territory in three different ways:
It will improve the scope of tourism:
According to the Union Territory administration, the railway line has quite the caliber which will be beneficial in improving the scope of tourism in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Jagdish Mukhi, Lieutenant Governor of the UT says, “As soon as the line is commissioned, tourism will see a jump from the current 4.5 lakh visitors to around 6 lakh annually, as per our estimates. So even though the railway survey shows a negative return, our assessment is otherwise. However, we have agreed to share the operational losses, if any.” The railways will also help the tourists to easily visit Ross and Smith islands that are major tourists attractions in Diglipur.
It will help in boosting defence:
As per the administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the railway project is of ‘immense strategic value’ for the defence forces because Diglipur is just 300 kms by sea from the southern coast of Myanmar. This railway route from Port Blair will definitely help one reach Diglipur in just three hours, thus it will provide a faster deployment of soldiers and resources during emergencies.
And finally, the railway line will be a blessing to the local residents as it will connect the largest town in North Andaman (Diglipur) with the capital (Port Blair). “If they could get trains to our island, travelling will become much easier. Diglipur has about 40,000 population, so it will make our travelling much more easier,” said Tufan Kishen, a native of Port Blair.
According to a report by the ministry, the cost of the line will be around Rs 2,413.68 crore with a negative rate of return on investment of -9.64%. The Railway ministry considers a line to be commercially feasible if the return on investment is at least a positive of 12%. But the ministry is set to approve this project owing to its ‘uniqueness and strategic importance’, according to the indianexpress.
Information source: ibtimes
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