Forty three years after it became a part of India, work will finally begin on putting the Himalayan state of Sikkim on the country’s railway map. In what can be called the biggest engineering challenge for the country after the Konkan Railway, a 54 km-long broad gauge track will be built connecting the hill state via the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of Gorkhaland passing through the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary. The track will feature a total of 37 bridges, 13 tunnels and also go over the turbulent Teesta river.
The project – most of which passes through Gorkhaland – was stuck for the want of a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) which has now given its final green signal, reports Economic Times. Around 51 km of the line will pass through Gorkhaland while the remaning section would be in Sikkim.
The GTA gave its consent to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) after its demands for stations in Kalimpong and Darjeeling were agreed to.
By connecting Sikkim to the rest of the Indian Railways network, the line will help increase tourism and trade in Sikkim and the adjoining areas. Currently National Highway (NH) 10 is the only land route to Sikkim.
The line will also enable quicker military movement to the India-China border. With the opening of this line, India can send troops quicker to the border region, in case China decides to increase its presence in Doklam.
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