The Indian side of the Assam-Sylhet rail line project, taken up to boost regional trade and connectivity between India and Bangladesh, has come close to completion, but the Bangladesh side of it is lagging far behind.
The Indian side of the rail route is expected to be completed by December this year, reports Assam-based news outlet Barak Bulletin.
However, completion of the Bangladesh part of the project remains uncertain as its implementation period has been extended repeatedly.
The Bangladesh side of the project is expected to be finished by December 2022, as per the latest time extension, but it has only made 30% physical progress in the decade since it was launched, said sources.
Project officials said it would not be possible to complete the project by the given time and more extinction would be needed for completing the route.
During the British period and after the independence of India, a rail route through Karimganj, Assam played an important role in connecting Bangladesh and Myanmar with other parts of India.
The Bangladesh part of the cross-border line, which is around 52.54 km, including 6.8 km of loop line, will stretch from Kulaura to Shahbazpur. The route has not been operational since December 1996 due to lack of traffic.
The Assam-Sylhet rail line project, taken in July 2011, was expected to be completed by June 2017.
But the project was extended several times due to various reasons, including faulty design, delayed financial closure and sluggishness on the contractor’s end.
Initially, a metre gauge line was planned for the project, but later, the design was changed following the instructions from the prime minister who directed that all newly-constructed railways have to be dual gauge or broad gauge tracks.
“For the changes in design, the project work could not be started before 2018,” said Project director Md Sultan Ali.
“The delay in financial approval is another reason for the delay in the project, which is being implemented under the Indian Line of Credit,” he added.
The contract for the work was awarded to Kalindi Railway Construction Company, an Indian construction company.