Comprehend the chasm exemplified by two eminent projects executed by the Indian Railways (IR) over a period of 70 long years. For the first, take the 200-odd-km Assam Rail Link (ARL) constructed at a cost of Rs 9.3 crore, incredibly in a single working season (January 1948-December 1949). The second may be the recent trailblazer Vande Bharat Express (Train 18) signifying a new genre train-set, faster and safer, with state-of-the-art facilities, manufactured at ICF Chennai.
For a real grasp of ARL’s value and importance, we need to imagine the post-1947 partition dilemma that India confronted. Urgent provision of road-rail connectivity for North-east came as a top priority. It is in this context that the crowning glory of the ARL project needs to be grasped, with what dexterity and dedication, courage and competence the IR grappled with the challenges in a period of postwar malaise and shortages, post-partition disruption, and primitive technological tools, amidst rampant hazards of navigating turbulent rivers, tortuous hills, valleys and gorges. Read More
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