Bhubaneswar: Expectations run high among people and political parties in Odisha over a big stimulus to the ever neglected Railway sector in the State after Aswini Vaishnaw, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha from the State, got the Railway Ministry in the recent Cabinet expansion of the Modi-government.
Aswini, who is originally from Rajsthan, had assumed Odisha as the place of duty long back after he became an IAS officer of Odisha cadre. After long administrative experience, he entered politics by joining BJP and got elected to the Upper House with the help from BJD in Odisha.
After he got a Rajya Sabha berth from Odisha and subsequently became Union Minister, the people in the State now expect him to pay back by improving the ever neglected railway sector.
As per the popular expectation, the continuous negligence would come to a halt during Aswini's tenure.
“It is to be seen how he takes steps for the completion of the ongoing projects and bring up new projects along with a well-connected railway network across the State as he is now the Cabinet Minister. For all these things, a strong will power is needed. It is up to him how he galvanises funds on projects in Odisha," Congress leader and former Railway Minister Bhakta Das said.
The BJD, which played a major role in electing him to the Parliament, has expected some works from him for the State too.
Party vice-president and MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said "We should wait and watch how he is works. He can do if he wishes so. It is quite obvious to expect from him. But one can't do anything overnight. Let him take some time to settle down," Patnaik said.
Some of the major challenges which would emerge before the new Railway Minister include bringing the rail network of the State under East Coast railway jurisdiction, expediting the pending projects, inclusion of six Odisha districts in the railway map.
Other challenges before the minister would be stepping up of the Khurdha-Bolangir railway line, introduction of passenger train on Paradip-Haridaspur route, setting up of Rail wagon factory at Sitalpalli in Ganjam and electric locomotive maintenance workshop in Kalahanadi. Similarly, conversion of Puri and Bhubaneswar railway stations into world class stations would be a major work to be done by him.
Odisha's expectations got an impetus after Vaishnaw sought the blessings of Lord Jagnnath for the service of Odisha soon after his induction into the Union Cabinet.
The State is also expected to get priority in Communication, IT and electronics sectors as Vaishnav holds the key portfolios besides Railways.
On the other hand, hopes from Dharmendra Pradhan are also not less as he has been assigned the ministry of Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneur. Demand for Central University tag to Utkal University has also got intensified with the varsity teachers writing to the new Education Minister over the issue.
“As the Education Ministry is under him, his foremost duty is to convert his alma mater into a Central University. If the varsity gets the Central University tag, many more opportunities would be created for the students in the State" said Kunja Bihari Panda, secretary, UU Teachers' association.