Geography of Assam (1896)

The Physical and Political Geography of the Province of Assam, Assam Secretariat Printing Office, Shillong, 1896.

Made available by the Internet Archive.
Source: Library of the University of California, Los Angeles Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: August 15, 2008.

They were early days for the railways in Assam, and so we find only this much:

[p. 136-137]

Owing partly to the excellent water carriage available and partly to the backward nature of the country, railway enterprise has not hitherto made much progress. But signs of a new condition of things are not wanting. Within the last ten years three small lines have been constructed, viz., the Dibrugarh-Sadiya Railway (77.5 miles) in Lakhimpur, the Jorhat-Kokilamukh line (28.40 miles) in Sibsagar, and the Theria-Companyganj line (8.5 miles) in Sylhet. Of these, the first-mentioned was constructed by the Assam Railways andTrading Company with a State guarantee; the other two are purely State Railways, constructed by Government without the intervention of private capitalists. An attempt to extend the lastmentioned line from Theriaghat at the foot of the Shillong plateau to Cherrapunji at its summit, by means of a series of inclines, was unsuccessful ; but the plains portion is still worked. It more than pays for the cost of its upkeep), aud it is not unlikely that it will, sooner or later, be extended to Chhatak on the Surma river.

But the most important railway project which Assam has yet seen still remains to be mentioned. Between the years 1882 and 1886, a railway survey party was engaged in Assam in making a survey with a view to laying down a line connecting this province with Bengal. The route followed by this survey runs from Chittagong through the south of the Sylhet district to Badarpur in Cachar, thence througli the North Cachar Hills to Lumding, near Dimapur, and from Lumding, via Golaghat, to Dibrugarh, with a branch line from Lumding to Grauhati.* A survey of the country between Gauhati and Dhubri had been carried out some years previously, when the Eastern Bengal State Railway was under construction. It was long a matter of discussion whether greater advantages might be expected to ensue from a railway along the route surveyed in 1882-1886, or from a line running laterally along the Brahmaputra Valley between Dibrugarh and a point on the Eastern Bengal State Railway, thus connecting the whole of the northern portion of the province with the existing railway system of Bengal. For some years no practical result supervened, as want of funds prevented the construction of a line at the expense of the State, and negotiations with private capitalists were not successful. During the year 1891-92, however, a company was at last formed to construct a railway along the former of the two routes described above, subject to a guarantee by the State, and work was commenced in November 1891. It is hoped that the line, when finished, will be the means of largely opening out the province ; but, as some years must elapse before the construction of the railway can be completed, speculation as to the consequences which may be expected to result from it would be premature.

* A line between Mymensingh and Gauhati through the Garo Hills was also surveyed and found to be practicable for a railway but at a cost so great as to be prohibitive.

Mymensingh to Guwahati through the Garo Hills! That would have been a stupendous undertaking for those times and I am poring over the AMS topographic maps to visualize what alignment through the maze of hills and ravines would have been surveyed.

But I am surprised to find no mention of the Tezpur Balipara Light Railway which had been functioning briskly for a year by the time this book was printed.

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2008.