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GANGTOK | AUG 7, 2020:
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected the Sevok-Rongpu broad gauge railway line, which is currently under construction.
Though the target date for the railway line's completion has been shifted to December 2022, the railway link with Sikkim is of extreme importance given the strategic location of the Himalayan state, since national security also comes into play.
It may be mentioned that Nathula in Sikkim's East District, which also borders China, is only 56 kilometres away from Gangtok. China has a railway line connecting Lhasa with Xigase, which became operational in August 2014.
The total length of the link will be 44.98 km out of which 41.54 km will be in Bengal and 3.44 km in Sikkim.
Stations include Sevok, Riyang near Rambi, Teesta Bazar, Melli on the Bengal side and Rongpu on the Sikkim side.
The New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) – the fastest and safest method for the Himalayan region – is being used.
"Though work is on, the pace is slow. Transporting workers to the site along with maintaining social distance is difficult. But we hope to complete the project by December 2022," said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO,) NF Railways.
It will connect the capitals of Mizoram and Nagaland by March 2023.