State of Tripura with a recorded population of 31,91,168 (2001) in an
area of 10,491.69 sq. km is yet to built up an effective system of transportation.
For a total of 962 Gram Panchayat and 16 towns/ notified area, the state
has 333 km of National Highway, 454 km of major district roads and 1463
km of other district roads and 3652 km of village roads. Besides road
communication, the railway line is currently confined to only 44.72 km
in this land locked State of North East India (Tripura at Glance, 2001).
Considering the entire network of road, the total road length stands at
15,177 km in 2000-2001. Of these, 3523 km are black topped, 2589 km are
brick soled and 9065 km are earthen (Table-71).
of Roads in the State
number of vehicles, as per available figure is rather low in public transport
system with only 1349 vehicles for 3.1 million people; the cargo transport
system shows 5484 lorries; other categories of vehicle are reported to
be 43,306 (2000-2001) (Table-72).
impact of road transport in the air quality data of four district town
(besides the contribution from other sources) has been dealt elsewhere.
However future transport network need to be planned with systematic environmental
Railways have made a proposal to extend the railway line from Kumarghat
in North Tripura to Agartala, the capital city. The 120 km long Railway
line is supposed to follow Assam Agartala road. The proposed alignment
necessities permanent diversion of 365 ha of forest land for non-forest
purposes. A brief EIA report submitted by North East Frontier Railway
along with outline of the Project, in March 1998, reveals that 60% of
the land to be acquired will be forest land and point out to the possibility
construction will involve cutting of 6186 RM tunnel. The EIA report however
appears to be short of details and a very sketchy rapid appraisal without
any hard data.
major concern for such project will be the impacts on Forest and Wildlife.
A detailed comprehensive four season impact assessment report is essential
before any public investment is made. The inventory of forest resources
and biodiversity value of the forest area of more than 600 ha need a detailed
study to arrive at a realistic cost-benefit assessment.
is surprising that in spite of other alternatives the NE Rly. authority
had chosen the proposed path of alignment. The hydrogeological study and
structural geology of the area also calls for detailed investigation.
necessity of Railway network not withstanding, public investment can only
be made with minimum damage to the environmental resources. It appears
that EIA notification of 1994 under EPA, 1986 does not call for mandatory
exercise for Railways, which itself appears arbitrary. The environmental
impact of Railways project elsewhere (Konkan Rly.; Panvel-Karjat BG line
in Western Rly.) have been given due consideration even without EIA stipulation.
loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural ecosystem calls for a
realistic, scientific assessment with regard to environmental goods and
services and possible cost of mitigatory measures due to long term impact
of project erroneously conceived and implemented. Apparently, such efforts
are totally lacking.
instance, the railway authorities has submitted a statement showing the
number of trees required to be felled at four different sectors of the
proposed broad gauge line. It mentions only about plantation forestry
of three species besides plantation crop like Rubber, Coffee and Cashewnut.
Obviously 650 ha of forest land does not contain only plantation forest
or other cash crops but inventory of wild flora, shrubs, herbs, bamboo,
cane and associated fauna is sadly missing. Even the plantation forest
and other crops excluding Coffee will need removal of nearly 0.15 million
trees in the proposed line of alignment (Table-73).
73 : Clear
failing of trees of proposed Railway project