Friday, July 6, 2007

Rail connectivity in pipeline - worth a thought...

While I see no tangible outcome of the protest against the hyel power project, the mere thought about another ubranization leap in the pipeline has started bothering me. The initiative of connecting Sikkim with the broad gauge railway network to West Bengal sounds promising. Well the thought of further extending the railway link upto Nathula sounds even more promising. But I wonder, what surprises it might bring along...

The Union Minister of State for Railways, R Velu during his recent vist to Gangtok claimed that the railway project for Sikkim - West Bengal link is on the advanced stage of submission to the Central Railways Board. This would definitely bring down the cost of transportation, leading to some industrial growth and tourism benefits, but I wonder if the due diligence has been done in terms of geological research and survey.
The road that has been carved in the fragile Himalayas suffer innumerable landslides every monsoon, so I wonder if the same terrain can bear the construction of the broad gauge railway track.

What I find even more concerning is the proposition to construct the direct tunnel between Gangtok and Yatung (located in Tibetan Autonomous Region) in order to make the all weather, safe and shortest route as a part of the Indo-China connectivity initiative. The Sikkim Chamber of Commerce (SCC) President quotes that the tunneling will not affect the over land fragile environment as everything will be underground. I admire the faith that's being reflected by the SCC on the world class technologies.

We are aware of the high-end technology and machineries used for tunneling the hard rock. But here we are talking about tunneling in the terrain that literally permits only G +2 wooden constrution? Is it possible to build a 20 km long tunnel through the soft rock? I wonder...

We are already observing the changes in climate drastically - higher temperature and change in rain pattern being the most evident ones. We are seeing multi-storey buildings tilting and collapsing during monsoons every year. I can't even begin to imagine the possible natural disasters that might come as a bonus to this developmental leap. Its high time we stop playing blind...

The Central Board of Irrigation and Power and Tunnelling Association of India is organizing the World Tunnel Congress “Underground Facilities for Better Environment & Safety” & 34th General Assembly of ITA-AITES in September, 2008 at Agra. The objective is to provide a forum for exchange of information on the new practices and technologies to ensure sustainable life for future societies.
Hope such initiatives make some difference. Hope we'd be able to reach a healthy balance between development and sustainability soon...

2 comments:

weepingsikkim said...

The sense of development of the the present policy makers is much to be desired and it is scary

Sikkim does not need a broad gauge train. As it is the monsoons cause havoc and the roads keep getting blocked. I am sure there will be major accidents. Rangpo will be like any other train station in India with the typical calls and cries of " chai"..."chai"......hordes of people coming in for god know what........Maybe this train service will do to Sikkim what the Beijing Train service did.....

I mean..why cant we have a toy train service.....like the Kalka Simla or the Darjeeling one. I dont see nay logic in a Broad Gauge service to Sikkim and to Nathula, they must be crazy!

As for the tunnel, what can i say. The President of the Sikkim Chamber of Commerce only cares for the moneyy, not the fragile ecology. Looks like he's very inspired by the Chinese feat of Engineering. A tunnel to Yakthung!!!!!!!!!!!ha !! ha!!! ha!!! ha!!!!!!I'm seriously going crazy in this place!!! Nobody wants to tALK SENSE ANYMORE!!!

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