Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a vital rail link in north Bihar on Friday that will reduce travel time to the Indo-Nepal border and also Northeast India.
The Nirmali-Saraigarh rail bridge over the Kosi river, built at a cost of Rs 561.02 crore, will reduce travel distance between these two places on the west and east banks of the Kosi from 298 kilometers to 22 kilometers.
The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on June 6, 2003 when Nitish Kumar was the Union Railway Minister.
But work on constructing this vital rail bridge, like many other infrastructure projects around the country, ground to a halt after the Congress-led UPA came to power in 2004.
Successive rail ministers during UPA rule–Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi, Mukul Roy, C.P.Joshi, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mallikarjun Kharge–did nothing to hasten the construction work.
It was only after the NDA returned to power in 2014 that work picked up pace. It was, in fact, Suresh Prabhu and then the present Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who asked the East Central Railway (this bridge falls under this railway zone’s Samastipur division) to expedite construction.
At present, rail passengers from Nirmali have to take a circuitous route through Darbhanga, Samastipur, Khagaria, Mansi and Saharsa to reach Saraigarh.
This rail bridge will also reduce travel time from central and western Bihar to the eastern part of the Indo-Nepal border, including the vital trade and transit city of Biratnagar on the international border.
Also, trains from Northeast India bound for North India will not have to take the longer and congested route through Katihar and can, instead, take the easier and shorter Supaul-Darbhanga-Muzaffarpur route.
This broad gauge rail bridge was originally sanctioned in the early 1970s to replace a meter gauge track between Nirmali and Saraigarh that was constructed by the British in 1887. This metre gauge track was damaged by the flood waters of the Kosi.
The inauguration of the Nirmali-Saraigarh rail bridge will fulfil a long-standing demand of the people of north Bihar, especially the Supaul district of the state.