Saturday, October 31, 2009
A significant milestone: VP Hamid Ansari
Rangpo,October31: Mr. Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, laid the foundation stone for Sivok-Rangpo rail link on Friday, October 30, at a Rangpo site. Those present included Mrs. Ansari, Governor of Sikkim, Mr. BP Singh, Mrs. Singh, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Union Minister for Railways, Mr. Mukul Roy, Union Minister of State for Shipping, Dr. Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister of Sikkim, Chief Secretary and other officials, Government of Sikkim, and representatives and officials from Railways.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Ansari said, “I am very happy to participate in today’s function and lay the foundation stone for the new broad gauge line between Sevok and Rangpo that would provide the first ever rail link to Sikkim. This is a significant milestone in providing the rail connectivity to the state”.
He hoped that the national project would be completed on time. It is also gratifying that further extension of this line from Rangpo to Gangtok is being planned and the survey for the same has been carried out, he said. He also said, establishing rail connectivity would not only lead to further economic development but also increase the number of tourists coming to the state.
Chief Minister Dr. Pawan Chamling in his address said, “Today is a red letter day for Sikkim and the Sikkimese people as the dream project that we pursued with the wholehearted support and endorsement of the Central Government has come to a full circle”.
As a Himalayan State, CM said, Sikkim is face to face with certain specific problems and hardships caused by its locational disadvantages and as a landlocked State, “we are deprived of easy access to regular communication and transportation linkages with the outside world”.
“With the only existing 31A National Highway to link Sikkim with the rest of the Country and the world, we are hard pressed to build other channel of communication for the State. Frequent disruptions due to landslides and disturbances in the neighbouring areas give us a sense of isolation and cause extreme hardships at times. However, today I feel this story belongs to the past and we are now stepping into a new dawn”. He said, “I am personally grateful to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and convey the gratitude of my people to the Government of India and to the Ministry of Railways and the Railway Board for making our cherished dream a reality”.
He further said, “I would like to share our dream and plan to extend the railway track upto Nathula border post standing at 14, 400 feet separating India with Tibet Autonomous Region of China. We are aware that countries like Switzerland has created special railway line in high altitude area over and above 14,000 feet like the Jungfraujoch (pronounced as Un-fra-yok) on top of Europe and in Mount Titlis, creating an engineering wonder”. “In the same way”, CM said, “I would like to urge upon the railway authorities to take advantage of the scenic beauty of Sikkim together with its strategic location to create another wonder of the world in the railway history surpassing all past achievements”.