G-20 summit moots unthinkable but true project! | Longest undersea …

Underwater metro under Hooghly River, road-cum-rail tunnels across Brahmaputra River

Beyond the Horizon

By Peradeep Kumar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a shipping and rail transportation corridor linking countries across the Middle East, South Asia and Europe on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 Summit in New Delhi.

“Strong connectivity and infrastructure is the base of development of humanity. India has prioritised on this in its developmental journey,” said PM Modi while addressing the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) conference with G20 leaders.

The announcement of a new corridor will lead to a comprehensive rail and shipping connectivity network linking US, India, Arab League (Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and European Union (representing 27 nations).

A memorandum of understanding was inked to explore a shipping and rail transportation that will enable the flow of commerce, energy and data in India across the Middle East to Europe.

* The infra deal will reduce shipping time and cost making trade cheaper and faster.

*An alternative to China’s Belt and Road project, which has left a host of developing countries in deep debt such as Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Laos and Mongolia.

*New corridor will increase flow of energy, trade and digital communications.

*Tackle the infrastructure deficit that hampers growth in lower- and middle-income nations.

*Contribute to reducing tensions and instability in the Middle East, thereby improving overall regional security.

“First, it is not just the Railway project, it is shipping and Railway project and it is important for people to understand how expansive, ambitious and ground-breaking this will be,” US Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said.

“We have an approach to the Middle East that we had been implementing since the very first day of this administration, that is focused on turning the temperature down, on de-escalating the conflicts that have been underway in some cases for many years,” he said, describing the region as historically often a “net exporter of turbulence and insecurity.”

Senior U.S. official for Indo-Pacific policy Kurt Campbell also said the leaders were working on a “major breakthrough” related to infrastructure and communications that would link India with the Middle East and Europe.

The rail link will make trade between Indian and Europe near nearly 40% faster, said the European Commission President.

The plan aims to integrate railway routes and port linkages, spanning from India to Europe, traversing through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. According to a European Commission representative, this integration will expedite the movement of goods across these regions. Furthermore, the initiative will focus on the advancement of energy infrastructure, facilitating the production and transportation of environmentally-friendly green hydrogen to all participating nations. As part of the plan, there is also a provision for improving telecommunications and data connectivity through the deployment of a new undersea cable connecting the entire region.

Interestingly, India’s first underwater metro had successfully run under Hooghly River in Kolkata on 22.04.23. Many such projects are under constructions.

In a strategic move, Railway Ministry and Road Transport Ministry along with the Border Road Organisation (BRO) are constructing India’s first road-cum-rail tunnels across Brahmaputra River in Assam at an estimated cost of Rs 7,000 crore.

The underwater tunnel project will be an engineering marvel and benefit the country strategically by reducing travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. As per the plan, there will be three parallel tunnels — one for the road, another for rail and the third one for emergency use. The tunnels will be of 9.8-km each and the first project where integrated tunnel construction will be undertaken. These tunnels will be inter-connected with cross passage for evacuation in case of any emergency.

Each tunnel will be 9.8-km long and will integrate the railways and highways via Jamurihat-Silghat axis towards Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The tunnels, which can be used for both civilian and strategic purposes, will take off from about 9-km upstream of existing Kaliabhomora (Tezpur) road bridge.