STATE GOVT INACTION, LIP SERVICE BY NFR LEAVES TRAVELLERS IN THE LURCH
A series of news reports in Nagaland Post highlighting lack of political will by the state government to act on land encroachers within Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Dimapur, had attracted reaction from two legislators from Dimapur who have called for the state to immediately intervene in order to ensure expansion and development of Dimapur railway station in the larger interests of travelling public.
According to NFR sources, encroachment has come in the way of expansion plans that are forcing projects to die premature deaths on the drawing board. The source said funds are not a problem for upgrading and expansion of Dimapur if land is made available. According to the source, large tracts have been encroached on both sides of the station over which pattas have been issued.
Eviction has been hampered by litigations that have dragged on for decades in the court. The NFR cannot wait perpetually to expand services to passengers as well as for ferrying goods in the region. NFR had plans to install escalator (like in Guwahati) but had to be abandoned and whatever facelift was given had to be done on the existing infrastructure. NFR also had plans to increase the present number of platform from two to five but even the one of them platform No.2 has no canopy due to lack of sufficient space.
Land encroachment seems to have provided the excuse for the NFR to begin the diversion of a planned double–track that would have run through Dimapur. However, due to encroachments, measures are being undertaken to divert the planned double-track by skirting Dimapur. The new track breaking off from Dhansiri station through Dillai will bypass Dimapur and eventually reconnect with the Bokajan station.
If land was available in Dimapur, the Dhansiri-Dimapur-Bokajan stretch would have an additional track. The double-track would have enabled trains to move in both directions, while shortening the mandatory stops for slower trains.
Rightly or not, the perspective at NFR over Dimapur seems to be negated by encroachment and other problems. These have justified the consistent steps to decrease or downgrade the importance of Dimapur railway station. One of the ways by which Dimapur railway station is being systematically deprived of due share is with regard to quota of reserved seats.
For instance, passengers at Dimapur have to buy tickets emanating at Jorhat, Furkating, Mariani or even Tinsukia for onward journey to Guwahati and beyond. This is because the quota for Dimapur is meagre in comparison with the volume of passengers.
Instead of getting more trains to meet the number of travellers at Dimapur, which has earned huge revenue for NFR, the officials claimed that Dimapur railway station lacked basic facilities to be a termination point such as– AC coach, proper water supply, cleaning etc.
Although there are around 3000 to 4000 passengers every day at Dimapur railway station, it has been allotted only 12 seats for 1st AC, 140 for 2nd AC, 347 for 3rd AC, 583 for Sleepers, 50 for AC Chairs and 186 for 2nd Class Sitting.
Dimapur passengers are compelled to buy tickets at counters or online from quotas of Jorhat, Mariani or Tinsukia etc. The revenue will not be credited to Dimapur but to these stations in Assam. This is one way where Dimapur railway station’s revenue earning for NFR which till 2020 was the second highest has gone down even though the volume of travelling passengers remains high.
Once the Silchar-Jiribam route goes functional, revenue generation at Dimapur would be affected. When that happens, Manipur would have the option of skirting Dimapur to haul its goods via Silchar.
The systemic step-motherly treatment meted out to Dimapur can be seen in the manner in which NFR has taken away some trains meant for Dimapur passengers.
The NFR has ‘hijacked’ Nagaland Express introduced on November 5, 2011, between Kamakhya Junction to Dimapur Railway Station (DMV) and terminating (holding back) at Dimapur. Presently Nagaland Express has been taken to Ledo in 2020 and now terminates at Ledo instead of Dimapur.
The train is the only express (non-stop train) especially allotted for Dimapur. It may be recalled that NFR had also “hijacked” Dimapur-Guwahati Jan Shatabdi allotted during 1996-97 to Jorhat.
The only train stopping at Dimapur (out of nearly 30 other trains) is B.G. EXPRESS – 15666, DIMAPUR (DMV) To GUWAHATI (GHY).
Officials of NFR have said many times about plans to make Dimapur railway station into a world class station. However, the difference between promise and delivery appears to be too wide. While other state governments fight even to establish a small station, the state government seems to be more interested in projects rather than genuinely promoting existing rail and air travel to boost trade and tourism.