Bhubaneswar: In a bid to develop railway infrastructure in the state, Odisha government on Friday decided to bear 50 per cent of the expenses on construction of 177 km long track of the Khurda-Bolangir railway project, official sources said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik gave his approval to such a proposal, the sources said, adding Odisha was the first state in the country to provide free of cost land for any railway project and offer to bear 50 per cent of cost of the construction of the railway line.
The state government action in this regard came due to tardy progress of the 289 km Khurda-Bolangir railway line.
Though the project was sanctioned way back in 1994-95, only 52 km rail line construction work was expected to be completed by end of 2013-14 fiscal, they said.
“As the Khurda-Bolangir railway project is considered significant for the socio-economic development of the people of at least four districts (Bolangir, Boudh, Nayagarh and Sonepur), the state government was ready to contribute to the project,” the sources said.
Though Khurda-Bolangir project is considered as the biggest railway project in the state, only Rs 40 crore was allotted for the project in the last railway budget.
The first survey work for the line was conducted in 1945 by the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) as it was felt that there should be railway link for the tribal dominated districts of Bolangir, Kalahandi, Koraput and Phulbani.
However, after Independence the project remained in cold storage till the Planning Commission approved it in 1993 and it received the presidential nod in 1994. Its cost was then estimated at Rs 383 crore. The project was expected to be completed within five years but funds crunch became a hindrance.
A number of delegations had met subsequent Railway Ministers, without any progress. Therefore, the state government decided to take half of the responsibility for completion of the project.