New Delhi: To strengthen rail infrastructure in Odisha, Railways will redevelop 11 stations including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri in partnership with the state government.
Besides, it will also open a workshop for periodical overhauling of electric locomotives at Kalahandi.
Eleven stations in Odisha will be redeveloped through a joint venture with the state government, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said at the MoU signing ceremony here.
Jharsuguda, Balasore, Bhadrak, Rourkela, Khurda Road and Rayagada are among the 11 stations to be redeveloped under the project. These premises will be converted into commercial hubs to offer improved passenger services.
Railways signed the MoU with the Odisha government on cost sharing of two new railway line projects in the state. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Jual Oram and a few MPs and MLAs from the state were present on the occasion.
As per the pact, the new railway lines are -- 113 km long Jeypore-Malkangiri line and 38 km long Jeypore-Nabarangpur rail route. These were included in the 2016-17 Railway budget.
Odisha would bear 25 per cent of the cost of Jeypore-Malkangiri line and the entire land cost and 50 per cent of the Jeypore-Nabrangpur line.
"Odisha is a focus state for Railways. The speed of implementation of projects will take it ahead...Odisha has minerals, tourism potential etc. But lags behind in terms of development due to lack of connectivity.
"The state government alone cannot ensure connectivity.
So, the Railways is doing its part," the Railway Minister said.
He said in order to improve the connectivity infrastructure in a state, Railways is forming a joint venture with that state government.
Patnaik said the rail connectivity in Odisha is way less than the national average and he is glad that this government has given priority to his state.
"The two projects - Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore- Nabarangpur will serve the most backward, Naxal-affected and tribal areas of the state. The Odisha government will be providing land free of cost for these projects.