Indian Railways moves to finish strategic rail bridge in Bihar – why it’s an important link to North-East

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Published: June 15, 2020 2:56 PM

Efforts are being made by Indian Railways to complete the development work of the bridge in time for the central government to make it operational by the month of August.

The bridge in Bihar is of strategic importance for the country and seeks to provide a shorter route to India’s Northeast region. (Representative image)

Indian Railways moves to finish strategic rail bridge in Bihar! 17 years since Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone, the two-km-long railway mega-bridge on river Kosi is likely to be inaugurated around the former Prime Minister’s second death anniversary. The bridge in Bihar is of strategic importance for the country and seeks to provide a shorter route to India’s Northeast region. As per instructions from the top officials of Indian Railways, the zonal railway officials have fast-tracked the work on this project. According to sources quoted in an IE report, efforts are being made by Indian Railways to complete the development work of the bridge in time for the central government to make it operational by the month of August.

Vajpayee laid the bridge’s foundation stone in the year 2003 as part of the government’s decision to provide strategic linkages to Indian Railways’ Northeast Frontier Railway zone. It is expected that the operational line will improve ground accessibilities as well as the nation’s capability to transport men and material from the northern part of India to the Northeastern states of the country through an alternate route.

A senior railway official was quoted in the report saying that this will give an alternate route all around the Nepal border. Currently, trains from the Northeast, to go anywhere in the country, have to come down to Katihar and Malda through what is called the ‘chicken neck’. Thus, the bridge will ease congestion in the ‘chicken neck’. With this bridge, the route will be opened up through Darbhanga, Nirmali, and New Jalpaiguri from where the route to the state of Assam starts.

It is being said that Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the East Central Railway zone to finish the job fast. The officials said that the bridge work is more or less complete as it has been one of the main priority projects of the zone. The only challenge is that during the monsoon season, it gets difficult to carry out this kind of work. The officials further said that from the Nirmali side, the bridge is yet to get connected for which the work is currently in progress. The bridge was sanctioned in the year 2003 at a cost of Rs 323.41 crore. According to officials, now that 17 years have been added, the project is likely to be completed at a cost of around Rs 516.02 crore.

A part of the Nirmali-Saraigarh broad gauge line, the bridge was originally sanctioned in the early 1970s to replace an old meter-gauge rail line that was constructed in the year 1887. During that time, Kosi was not flowing between these two railway stations. Also, a small bridge was established across the tributary river Tiljuga near Nirmali in Bihar’s Supaul district. But because of the continuous westward shifting of Kosi, this railway link was damaged by flood and the Indo-Nepal earthquake that occurred in the year 1934. A senior official of East Central Railway said that thereafter, no attempt was made to restore this railway link, owing to the meandering nature of the Kosi river.

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