The Supreme Court gave green signal to a litigation-marred railway link between West Bengal and Sikkim. The railway line will run from Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim. The project was on hold since 2009 as many wildlife activists and environmentalists were opposing it.
The Sevoke-Rangpo Rail Link project is a 44.98 km long stretch with around 7.6% of the railway track falling in the Himalayan stretch bordering China. The track will pass through Mahananda sanctuary and forest areas of Kurseong, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and East Sikkim. The new project is of immense importance as it can serve as an apparatus to speed up socio-economic development of people of the region.
Around 14 tunnels will be built in the route to avoid loss of forests or damage to environment. Trains will also be advised to run at a restricted speed and should be equipped with latest technologies like wireless animal tracking system to prevent accidents and damage to wildlife. An estimated budget of Rs. 1,339.48 crore has been decided.
The Supreme Court also announced that this railway track project will be an ambitious and prestigious one. As of now, Sikkim solely depends upon National Highway 10, a steep and landslide prone road network. The rail will not only serve as a reliable means of transportation, but also meet various requirements of national defence. Introduction of the rail link will boost tourism in Sikkim too. Another good news awaits round the corner! This railway line might reach up to Nathu La Pass on India-Tibet border.