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Pradeep Pattanayak

Topographically separated southern and western Odisha appear all set to get  connected by a railway network.

 A new line will be laid up from Gopalpur to Sambalpur and for it, which has already been approved by the Central government, a token amount of Rs 1crore has been allocated in the recently announced Railways Budget. 

The most important aspect of this rail line is that the dream of Kandhamal district’s people to have train service in their district will also come true. Once completed and commissioned, the line will connect four districts namely Ganjam, Boudh, Phulbani and Sambalpur.

After learning about the new line, people in the four districts are in a celebration mode. “We are thankful to the Central government and the Railway Minister for thinking about the development of Kandhamal district,” said a Kandhamal resident. 

“The new rail line connecting Berhampur and Sambalpur is no doubt a welcoming move. But we are doubtful about the early completion of the project because old projects have not been completed yet,” opined Satyanarayan Padhi, a Boudh district resident. Expressing his happiness, B B. Shankar Patra from Berhampur said the new line will be of immense benefit to the people of the four districts. “The sooner the project is completed the more will be the benefits,” Patra added. 

This 240-kilometre-long line will have its starting point at Jagannathpur on Bhubaneswar-Berhampur route and its culminating point will be at Rairakhol on Sambalpur-Angul route. It will touch Aska (Ganjam), Bhanjanagar (Ganjam), Phulbani (Kandhamal) and Boudh and will have a total of 18 stations.  

As per the people of the four districts, the new line will be instrumental in the financial growth of the areas. This apart, cargo transportation to and from Goplapur port will go up manifold. 

As per experts, allocation of token money means the Centre’s eagerness for the project. “The project having found a space in the budget means it has been sanctioned. Now, ground work will be carried out, a detailed project report (DPR) will be prepared and a field study will then be conducted. This entire process would take at least one and a half years to two years. Then, the land acquisition process will start,” informed Dillip Samantaray, a railway expert. 

Urging the State government to expedite the process of land acquisition and forest approval, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the ministry is ready to meet the expectations of the people of Odisha.

It is pertinent to mention here that 27 years have passed since the Khordha-Bolangir railway project was announced. But the project is yet to see the light of the day. In such a scenario, it is to be seen when a train will chug from southern Odisha to western Odisha through Kandhamal district.

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