The Indian Railway ministry is all set to approve a 240 km-long railway link, first-ever railway route of Andaman and Nicobar Islands that will connect two of its major islands.
The ambitious project aims to link Andaman’s capital city Port Blair, which is in the south, with Diglipur located in the north of the islands. It will involve building several bridges and stations along the sea coast.
• According to Ministry’s internal survey report, the entire project is expected to cost around Rs 2413.68 Cr.
• It is also estimated to receive a negative rate of return on investment of -9.64 per cent.
• While the railways only consider a line commercially viable when the rate of return on investment is at least 12 per cent positive, this project is estimated to receive a negative rate of return on investment of -9.64 per cent.
• The ministry is still planning to approve it, given its strategic importance, uniqueness and tourism potential.
• The Ministry’s planning and Finance directorates cleared the project in the first week of February 2017.
• The Union territory’s administration will be sharing 50 per cent of the project’s operational cost or loss if any.
Benefits of the Railway link
• The rail link will make commuting much smoother and easier between the two islands.
• Currently, the islands are linked by a 14 hr long bus journey and 24 hour long ship journey. There is no air connectivity.
• The broad-gauge rail route, on the other hand, is expected to complete the journey in around 3 hours, cutting the usual time taken by a huge margin.
• Currently, the island has over 4.5 lakh visitors each year. The number is expected to go up to 6 lakh a year after the completion of the project.
• The link is also expected to benefit the island’s defence forces, as it will facilitate a faster deployment of soldiers and resources during emergencies.