Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Minister vows rail link to Sikkim

image GANGOK, June 28: Union minister of state for Railways Mr R Velu announced here today that Sikkim would get the much-awaited railway connectivity soon.

“To begin with, trains would ply between Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim, a stretch of 52.7 km. The estimated expenditure for the project is Rs 1,334 crore,” Mr Velu, said. He added that railway link in the state would be extended up to Gangtok later.

“We have decided to introduce five passenger reservation centres (PRCs) in Sikkim for the benefit of the common people and tourists,” he added. Mr Velu said that 14 per cent of the total revenue earned by the state railway would go to the Centre. “Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) will be introduced for the first time by the Northeastern Railway. Under the new system, tickets can be booked from any part of the state even without personal appearance,” Mr Velu, added.

It may be recalled that Sikkim Governor Mr V Rama Rao had called for introduction of railway services in the state during a meeting with the Railway Board officials at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi recently. Union panchayat minister Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Governors and chief ministers of N-E states and chairman of the North-Eastern Council were also present at the summit.

“Railway connectivity was a long pending demand of the people of Sikkim. Since Sikkim is the only state in the north-east that does not have railway connectivity, the Centre decided to consider the plea of the state officials,” the minister, said.
He added that the Centre is also planning to introduce railway link in Nathu La at an altitude of 14,420 feet.

Mr Velu met state ministers and officials here today. Among others present at the meeting included minister of state for transport Mr Menlom Lepcha, Rajya Sabha MP Mr OT Lepcha, Lok Sabha MP Mr Nakul Das Rai and state chief secretary Mr ND Chingapa. Mr Velu is also scheduled to visit Thegu tomorrow. He will leave for Darjeeling on 30 June.