A day after Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda announced the first passenger train in Meghalaya, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the introduction of rail-head in Meghalaya would boost the economy of the landlocked state. "The introduction of the train is an opportune time for the people to derive maximum benefits in terms of goods and services transportation and this should generate interest in other parts as well," Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told PTI. "I foresee a positive effect for the economy as well as transportation in the entire state is dependent on roads. I expect changes in the mindset of the people in the near future after this," he said. Gowda also introduced Bullet and other premium trains for the country through his new list.
The train would connect Mendipathar in North Garo Hills region of the state with Guwahati in Assam on a daily basis. The distance between the two destinations is 131 km.
Meghalaya has been without any rail-head since it attained statehood in 1972 in the wake of stiff opposition from local pressure groups for fear of influx of outsiders. In this regard, the Chief Minister assured that necessary steps will be taken into account to ensure that the rail services do not have an adverse impact on the entry of outsiders. "Necessary checks and measures will be put in place to ensure that the concerns of the groups and all are addressed in right earnest and we are hopeful that a proper mechanism and effective structure will be put in place," he said.
The Chief Minister also said that he would soon move the Centre to explore the possibility of having railway - tourism in the state to cater to high end tourists and boost the economy further. The proposal for creating a railway link to connect Meghalaya with the rest of the country was announced in the 1992-93 Railway Budget even as its completion took time due to several issues like land compensation and forest clearances.
The train engine had completed its test run after the construction of railway tracks, stations and completion of all railway amenities ahead of the April 1 deadline, a railway official said. "As of now we are waiting for the safety inspection which will be carried out by the Kolkata-based Central Railway Safety Inspection teams which will be carried out within this month," North East Frontier Railway (construction) PRO D C Borah said.