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Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Inspects Sivok-Rangpo Rail Link Project

Sikkim’s proposed train link to the rest of the nation, the Sivok-Rangpo line, was inspected by Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. According to a news release, Vaishnaw examined the junction preparations in Sivok and gave officials the order to turn the location into a gateway to Sikkim. Currently, the only means of transportation between Sikkim and the outside world is a road (NH 31A), which experiences severe monsoon delays and very steep slopes.

Increased traffic demand puts tremendous pressure on the road making it more vulnerable to damage and the journey more stressful. The rail connectivity is expected to provide a reliable and comfortable transportation infrastructure.

The release stated that the project is considered of strategic importance with future connectivity to Gangtok and thereafter to Indo-China Border (i.e., upto Nathula Pass) and a vital role in meeting the Defence requirements upto Nathula Pass) and a vital role in meeting the Defence requirements, the release stated.

As per the release, the total length of the project is 4.98 km (Sikkim: 3.43 Km, West Bengal: 41.6 Km), with a sanctioned cost of Rs 4086 crore. A total of 14 tunnels, 21 bridges, and five stations are expected to be a part of this project.

Regarding the project, wildlife clearance (Mahananda Wildlife) and forest clearance have been obtained. Contracts for 14 tunnels, 13 major bridges, and four yards have been awarded. Also, the construction work of yards at Sivok, Riyang, Melli, and Rangpo is in progress.

Sikkim to be on the railway map

If everything goes as per plan, Sikkim will be on the national rail map of the country by 2023. Giving a major push to the ongoing efforts to achieve this deadline, Union Minister of Railway Ashwini Vaishnaw on Sunday conducted on the spot-inspections of the ongoing -works at various places.

Inspecting the proposed Rail Link between Sivok-Rangpo, which connects Sikkim with the rest of the country, the minister encouraged the officials to meet the deadline by completing works on mission mode.  At present, Sikkim has only road connectivity even after 70 years of the country’s independence but the project will bring this state on the national rail map coming as a route of strategic significance to defence purposes also.

The railway under the PM’s much-vaunted ‘Look East’ policy has started a slew of rail projects to bring the state on the rail map by creating a new rail route network.

Railway officials here on Sunday, 5 March 2023 said that the rail connectivity will provide a reliable and swift transpiration facility to the people of this hill-surrounded state of Sikkim.

“The railway is working on mission mode to bring the station national rail map”, remarked the railway senior official, adding that the Sivok-Rangpo rail link project is of strategic importance. It will help pave the way towards Gangtok and thereafter to the Indo-China border to support the defence urgency.

This project will also play a very supporting strategic role in defence in mobilising troops and maintaining supply chains during the emergency along the country’s border sharing with China’-occupied Tibet and other areas.

Sharing details of the project on the sideline of the minister’s inspection, a senior railway official said that the route of 44.98 km with a sanctioned cost of Rs 2500 crore.

“There will be 14 tunnels and 21 major and small bridges in this route. The five stations on this route namely Sivok, Riyang, Teesta, Melli and Rangpo”, added the railway official.

The railway has already obtained the wildlife and forest clearances for this project and 152.82-hectare land out of a total requirement of 159.28 hectares of land has been acquired. The contracts for all 14 tunnels have been awarded in addition to the contracts awarded for 4 yards.

The railway is working in mission mode to bring the Sikkim on rail map by 2023-a year delayed from the earlier deadline.

A senior railway official said that the biggest task faced by the railway was the construction of tunnels which have been conquered as of the 44.98 km of tracks; nearly 38.65 km of tracks pass through tunnels because of mountainous locations.

“This project upon completion will come out an engineering marvel as a part of this project passes through Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal while remaining areas fall under the Sikkim.  The then railway minister Mamata Banerjee had laid the foundation stone for this project in 2009 with a tentative target of completion by 2015. “But after years of delayed, the works are in full swing and by December 2023, the Sikkim will be on India’s national rail map”, claimed a senior railway official. The work on this project got expedited after Narendra Modi became the PM of the country in 2014.