Sikkim, the small state in the foothills of the Himalayas, is a paradise for travellers. But reaching the state is an arduous journey. The Sivok-Rangpo road remains chock-a-block most of the times, owing to heavy traffic. But wait for two years. If everything goes all right, the 44.9km Sivok-Ranngpo project will be completed by June 2021. Also Read - What to See And do When in Sikkim
According to a TOI report, the route will comprise 14 tunnels, 14 major bridges and will offer an ethereal journey to travellers. 85 per cent of the total train journey will be through tunnels. While the longest of these will be 5.27 km, the shortest will be of only 538 m. The route will pass through the forest divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, and East Sikkim and also through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Also Read - Phadamchen: A Quick Guide to Sikkim's Best Kept Secret
“The train journey from Sivok to Rangpo will be of less than two hours and will cross Riang, Teesta Bazaar and Melli stations. People can just get off the train after a comfortable journey and hire a vehicle to take them to Gangtok or some other location,” a senior official of Northeast Frontier Railway (NRF) said to TOI. Also Read - Ravangla: A Slice of Heaven in Sikkim
In the second phase, tracks will be laid up to Gangtok, he added. The project is being implemented by NFR and IRCON International Ltd.
The project is aimed at boosting revenue generated through tourism as the route will connect many tourist places and hill stations such as Darjeeling, Kalimpong, reports the Financial Express.
However, the project is not a new one. It was announced in 2009. Several issues, including environmental clearances and land acquisition, had hindered the project.
Local residents have protested against the project as it would lead to massive pollution. It’s apprehended that the tunnels might impact groundwater sources.
The route will also facilitate the movement of troops to Sikkim which shares its border with China.