Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sikkim To Get Train Link Upto Rangpo

GANGTOK: R Velu, Union Minister of State for Railways, arrived here today.
Mr. Balu is on a three days visit to Sikkim.
The Union Minister will be attending a meeting with MP Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and the Minister, State Transport Department at the Tashiling Secretariat here today.
The Minister is expected to discuss various issues regarding possibilities of railway linkages upto Nathula, opening up of more railway booking counters in Sikkim, etc during the meeting.
Earlier today, the Union Minister was welcomed by Rajya Sabha MP, OT Lepcha and various officials of Transport Department at the Rangpo Tourist Center.

Sikkim is set to get rail connectivity as a new project will link Rangpo in the eastern part of the state to Sevoke in West Bengal, Minister of State for Railways R Velu said here on Thursday. A feasibility report on the rail link is ready to be submitted to the railway board, Velu told reporters here after a meeting with state Transport Minister Menlom Lepcha and officials. The estimated cost of the project, which entails laying tracks between Sevoke near Siliguri in West Bengal to Rangpo, will be Rs 1334.70 crore. A survey on extending the link from Rangpo to Gangtok was also in the pipeline. "But that will be the second stage. Our priority now is to take the Sevoke-Rangpo rail link to its logical conclusion," Velu said. Asked how long it will take for work to start on the project, he said the process of getting clearances from the railway board and the planning commission usually takes about a year. The central government is anxious to give connectivity to all states in the northeast including Sikkim, he said. Velu will also visit Thegu and Nathula during his three-day trip to Sikkim to explore the possibility of setting up passenger reservation offices there. With only one highway linking it to the rest of the country, Sikkim had been demanding rail connectivity since its merger with the Indian union in 1975.

On June 28, he is scheduled to visit Nathula.