Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday shot off a letter to the Union minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain to take immediate steps to link Majuli – the island district in the heart of the Brahmaputra – to railway network of the country. He also asked for a rail link to Barpeta, an important centre of sattriya culture.
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“Linking Majuli, the epicentre of Vaishnavite sattriya culture of Assam, to the national railway network has been a priority of the present state government since it has come to power. Flow of tourists, both domestic and international, to Majuli and Barpeta has been hit hard because these two places are not connected by railways,” Sonowal in his letter to MoS Gohain said.
Chief minister Sonowal in his letter requested MoS Gohain to ensure undertake a survey work followed by immediate execution of a project to put both Majuli and Barpeta on the railway map. He also suggested a route from Barpeta to Guwahati through Sarthebari and Hajo, and the other from Gogamukh through Dhakuakhana to Kamalabari for Majuli on a priority basis.
While Majuli – the island whose area has shruck from about 1200 sq km in 1900 to about 450 sq km because of river-bank erosion caused by the Brahmaputra – is the most important seat of Vaishnavite sattriya culture, Barpeta in lower Assam also finds equal importance in the spread and development of sattriya culture propagated by the 16th century saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva.
Represented by chief minister Sonowal in the state assembly, Majuli was declared as a district in September last year. Right now the only mode of transport to Majuli is by waterways, and the foundation stone for a bridge connecting it to Jorhat was laid only in February 2016.