Aizawl, the 23rd April 2021: Pu Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, Chief Secretary, Government of Mizoram visited various construction sites of the ongoing 51.38 Km long stretch of the Bairabi-Sairang railroad project taken up by the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), this forenoon. After he was briefed on the project by Shri Vinod Kumar, Chief Engineer of the project at Bridge No.115, Khamrang, he had then proceeded to inspect the construction works at Mualkhang Railway Station, Bridge No.161, 167, 169 and the Sairang Railway Station which just a few kilometres away from Aizawl city.
On inspecting the quality of the works done so far at the project sites, Pu Lalnunmawia Chuaungo shared his positive feedbacks with the NFR officials and urged them to carry on with their works at the faster pace. While extending the appreciation the people of Mizoram had on this eagerly awaited railroad, he had assured the commitment from the state side to tackle any issue that might hampers the construction works. He had also echoed the gratitude of the state leadership to the Railways Ministry for taking up this extremely viable project, which he will surely unlock the immense untapped economic potential of this far-flung state. Further, he added that stretching this project all the way to the southernmost part of the state will definitely enhance the potential of Mizoram as the key state through which India does trade with the South East Asian countries.
On this project, the NFR had shared the initiation, the challenges, the progress and the scope it will provide for Mizoram as shown below.
The North-eastern region has a very special place in all developmental agenda of the Government of India. Expansion of Rail connectivity in the Northeast has been the topmost priority of the Government under the able leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. Mizoram is a land locked State of the Union of India. It is surrounded by Myanmar on the East and South and Bangladesh on West. It also shares its boundary with Assam, Tripura and Manipur on its North. Almost entire transport of the State depends on the Road network. Mizoram state was brought on the Broad Gauge network of Indian Railways in May’2016 with the gauge conversion of 84 km long Railway Line from Katakhal in Assam to Bairabi (near Assam- Mizoram border) in Mizoram.
There has been persistent demand from the public representatives as well as State Government for extending the Rail network up to the capital of the State, Aizawl. Therefore, a Preliminary Engineering cum-Traffic (PET) survey was sanctioned by the Railway Board in Sep’1999. But the survey work could not be undertaken as the proposed alignment passes through thick forest areas with difficult accessibility, poor visibility and also due to local agitation and intimidation by inhabitants. As PET survey was not found to be feasible, Railway Board was requested to change it to Reconnaissance Engineering-Cum-Traffic (RET) survey, which was agreed by Railway Board in Jul'2003. RET survey for Bairabi-Sairang Rail link was completed and submitted by N. F. Railway in March’2006. Part Detailed Estimate for Pre-Construction survey was sanctioned for a cost of Rs. 9.15 Crs in May’2008.
The New Line Project, Bairabi-Sairang, appeared in the Pink Book 2009-10. Considering an important link between Mizoram and rest of the country, Government of India declared this Project as “National Project” in 2008-09. Bairabi – Sairang BG Railway line will provide connectivity to Mizoram’s State Capital Aizawl (Sairang) with the rest of the country as part of Indian Railway’s Vision to connect all the capitals of North Eastern states by BG railway line and thus it will help in overall development of Mizoram State. Traders of the state will be able to bring items of daily consumption as well as construction materials in a much cheaper, cost-effective, and eco-friendly way. Farmers of the state will be able to send their produce to the wider market of the various states at cheaper rate and in time-bound manner.
Proposal for land acquisition was submitted to State Govt. in April’2011 and land was handed over by State Govt. to N.F. Railway in parts between Mar’2013 to January’2014
Foundation stone of the New Broad Gauge Line from Bairabi to Sairang (Mizoram) was laid by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on 29.11.2014.
This new Railway line has speed potential of 100 kmph with Ruling Gradient of 1 in 80. Alignment of the project takes off from existing Bairabi station (near Assam-Mizoram border) and terminates at Sairang station (near Aizawl) with total length of 51.38 Kms. The general direction of the alignment is south from Bairabi station. The project line traverses through the Thingdawl and Tlangnuam Blocks of Kolasib and Aizawl districts respectively. Entire length of railway track passes through dense forest consisting steep hills & deep gorges.
There are total 32 tunnels (Total tunnel length = 12.672 km), 16 Cut and Cover tunnels (Total length = 2.589 km) 55 major bridges out of which 6 bridges are tall bridges having height of more than 70m (the tallest being 101.4m), 87 minor bridges, 5 Road Over Bridges and 8 Road Under Bridges.
Project consists of 4 new stations namely Hortoki, Kawnpui, Mualkhang and Sairang (all in Mizoram).
Almost all the tenders for various works have been finalized and work is in progress at different stages. Out of total tunnel length of 12.672 km, Underground Excavation of 11.250 km (88.78%) and lining of 9.377 km (74%) has been completed. The progress of Cut & Cover Tunnels is 21.05% (0.546 km has been completed out of total length of 2.589km), Earthwork is 89.55% (311.55 lakh cum completed out of total scope of 347.89 lakh cum, Minor Bridges is 73.26 % completed and Major Bridges 37 %. The project is likely to be completed in Dec’2023.
Factors affecting the progress of project
(a) The working season in the area is of very short duration and limited to only 4 to 5 months (i.e., from November to March) in a year and no work is possible from April to October due to prolonged duration of monsoon with heavy rainfall.
(b) The alignment is traversing through hilly terrain, deep valleys and gorges requiring construction of tunnels and tall bridges/viaducts.
(c) The project access/site roads are prone to frequent landslides and failures and become slippery even after single rain, resulting in the stoppage of movement of men & materials at site.
(d) Local labour for such heavy construction is not available in Mizoram and all the labours is brought from other states. Mizoram is the remotest state in the Northeast with project located in completely hilly areas. Therefore, the labourers hesitate for working in Mizoram and there is always shortage of labour in the Project.
(e) Suitable construction materials (i.e. sand, stone chips etc.) are not available in Mizoram state, which is to be transported from adjacent state of Assam/West Bengal/Meghalaya and Other States by road/rail.
(f) All the works in the Project were stopped from Mar’20 to Nov’20 due to COVID-19 pandemic. Strict COVID-19 protocol of Mizoram State also discouraged the entry of labour in the Project even up to January’20 and there are not pre pandemic conditions in the project area till date.
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