The Narendra Modi government has given a green signal for the laying of a 240km broad-gauge railway line connecting two major population centres in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is part of a major infrastructure push for the islands, which have “immense strategic value” according to the local administration. Given the inhospitable terrain of the island chain, the link is expected to run parallel to the coast and will have a number of bridges.
The railway line will connect Port Blair, the capital of the union territory located in the southern part, with the northern population centres in Andaman. Connectivity is an issue because the only reliable ways to travel from north to south is a 350km bus and ferry service that takes more than 14 hours. The railway link, among other things, will boost tourism, defence and business in the region.
The construction of the line is expected to cost Rs 2,413.68 crore, and will have a negative rate of return on investment of -9.64 per cent. Ignoring the negative rate of return, which must rise to 12 per cent on the positive scale for viability, the Railway Ministry’s Planning and Finance directorate has approved the project because of its “uniqueness and strategic importance”.
Growth of tourism is among the most important driving forces behind the decision to approve the railway line. “As soon as the line is commissioned, tourism will see a jump from the current 4.5 lakh visitors a year to around 6 lakh a year, as per our estimates,” The Indian Express quoted Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Island Jagdish Mukhi as saying.
Despite the fact that the link will boost tourism, the Railway Ministry has suggested that the line will be constructed as a strategic link for the Defence Read More…