9 IRSE probationers were asked to go NFR for construction training. I was one of them.As the duration of training nears completion, its time to look back.
Most of us are concerned about our place of posting after joining the services.Since engineering services is a central service,you have an all-India liability to work in any part of country.An aspirants who prepares for this exam thinks only about positive aspects but there are some difficulties as well. Life is not a bed of roses even after clearing this exam. The more responsibilities you take , more will be challenges. Those who willingly want to work in Noth-east are still in minority whether in Railway or CPWD.In this regard ,i am giving you a glimpse of working in North-East Frontier railway from my point of view.
An average Indian is ignorant about N-E until he prepares for some competitive examination. Only few of you can recall all the states of N-E along with their capital. If you think that capital of Assam is Guwahati then you need to improve you general awareness. This forces us to do some introspection that why N-E has not been fully integrated in our minds although it is an integral part of India an any other state.The reasons for this can broadly be put into geographical and historical context.
Due to historical reasons, North-east has virtually been cut-off from rest of India. Even though Bangladesh is more friendlier than Erstwhile East Pakistan the prospect of international corridor through it has still not been finalized. At the ‘neck’ the width is strip of Indian territory is just 40km. All the rail and road traffic going to north-east is diverted through this strip only. If this strip is somehow blocked, then whole of North-east is out of bounds. The only mode of communication left would be air transport.As large scale movements of goods and people can’t take place without the surface transport ,the N-E would be left on its own fate. However, even if that situation is very improbable, the significance of surface transport can’t be denied in integration of a country.
After you enter Assam,all the work is still ahead of you. How to connect even the remotest part of N-E via road and surface transport. Geographic features of N-E are uneven , hills interspersed with plains. The mighty Brahmaputra presents no less challenge, where all engineering is put to test. Britishers built bridges everywhere, except on Brahmaputra. As you are well aware that Arunachal lies north of this river, the necessity of rail and road link to Arunachal becomes even more pertinent. Geopolitics of China with respect to Arunachal has put stakes very high for infrastructure projects. Actually, Indian Government have been jolted out of their slumber by the recent advances made by China in Tibet. China has completed its rail project along border areas even in worse conditions than ours. The Chinese have completed projects in a time-bound manner, Indian ones have gone off-track once too frequently. At Dibrugarh, a rail cum road bridge is being constructed over brahmaputra to connect Arunachal Pradesh with Assam. This is strategic location for national security and development of Arunachal. The picture below speaks for itself, once completed we will be able to roll tanks on the bridge. This bridge is completely welded, first of its kind in India.
Incredible India campaign about N-E says ‘Beauty unexplored’ but how would you do so if there are no proper connectivity links. Narendra Modi , in his election rallies promised a new beginning for N-E people and the result is showing. All construction project of railways have been given the status of ‘National Projects’ means that there will be no fund crunch. All this was due for a long time , N-E can’t be ignored for more. Railway engineers have been given deadline for completing long standing projects. All the officials are working overtime to conform to deadline. PM is himself in touch with GM of NFR. Railways officials will be held accountable if project is not completed on time right from top. Railway follows strict hierarchy in its workings,accountability can go upto railway board.
Now let’s us discuss how it’s like working in NFR. Before this have a look at pic below.
He is our senior working as Assistant Executive Engineer in Bhairabi-Sairang Project. Earlier the MG line existed upto Bhairabi(Mizoram) but now a new BG line is to be constructed upto Sarang. He was earlier working as AEN,Asansol but has been posted for 2 years to NFR. Although he works in a condition not very congenial for construction activities, yet he his fully dedicated to his work. According to him, this presents a great learning opportunity from civil engineering point of view.He takes his posting here in a very positive spirit. There are certain areas where we can’t move without security cover. Even we probationers, were given security cover when we moved from one place to another at night. Some sections have higher threat perceptions than others, so security is accordingly given.
Those who take CPWD also come here because along with track conversion,highway construction is also going on. NHAI works side by side Indian Railways because alignment in hilly areas is almost same for both of them. If our Armed forces are ready to gaurd at borders then there should be no complaint from govt. officials about working in inhospitable conditions. As an officer,whether in civil services,engineering services or other central services you should not complain that you are forefront of tackling insurgency challenges or completing infrastructure projects. New regime has made its mind about N-E and those aspirants preparing for central services should make their own ,about working here.
Insurgency and separatism in N-E has been due to complex cocktail of race,ethnicity,international interference and geopolitics .Those areas which lack connectivity have lagged behind from rest of the country. This acts as negative feedback,enforcing discontent and suppressing growth. People and their needs are same everywhere unless channeled in a proper way.
More and more vacancies are going to be created in N-E you could one of them to get your posting here. It will be upto you how you want to take it.
Will you curse your fate or rejoice in the beauty of hills? It’s all a matter of perception.