Naveen seeks PM’s attention towards Odisha’s rail requirement

Bhubaneswar: Seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal attention towards Odisha’s requirement in railway sector, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said industrial activity in the state requires a well planned railway infrastructure for its sustainability.

“The nature of industrial activities in the state requires a robust and well planned railway infrastructure for its sustainability,” Patnaik wrote to the prime minister ahead of the Railway budget and sought his favourable consideration towards the state.

Stating that the railway route length and rail density in Odisha is well below national average as also substantially lower than that in neighbouring states, Patnaik said, in contrast gross earnings from various stations in the state of Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs 14,000 crore during the year 2013-2014.

Patnaik in his letter said, “I would request you to kindly ensure allocation of a sizeable part of the revenues generated from Odisha within the state itself for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure”.

“The central government has initiated many ambitious projects like dedicated freight corridor aligned with mega industrial hubs, national road expressways and high speed train projects which appear to have completely bypassed Odisha although some of the country’s largest investment in the steel, aluminium and power sectors are coming up here,” he pointed out.

Noting that the Odisha government has taken important steps to create greenfield ports which will be the country’s gateway to international maritime trade as well as for coastal shipping between the east and west coasts of India, Patnaik said, “I have been requesting the Ministry of Railways to put in place a time-bound Infrastructure upgradation arrangement for the ports coming up on the Odisha coast.”

A synchronised development plan between the ports and related rail connectivity is a necessity for maximising economic gains, he said. .

While highlighting the backwardness of the state, the chief minister said that lack of infrastructure has been one of the major reasons which have impeded the socio-economic growth of this region.

“As you must be aware, these areas are also seriously affected by left wing extremism. I believe that delivering rail services in the naxal affected regions is one of the best means to channelise development therein and provide counter active force,” Patnaik said.

Another important project connecting backward western Odisha to coastal Odisha is the Khurda-Bolangir railway line, which was sanctioned way back in 1994-95, but the progress is slow pace due to lack of fund, he said.

Odisha government has committed to allocate land (including private land) in the Despotic-Bolangir stretch (112-289 KM) free of cost and share 50 per cent of construction cost for this segment, Patnaik mentioned in the letter.

Similarly, the Odisha government has consented to bear 25 per cent of construction cost for Jeypore? Malkangiri project and to provide all land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of construction cost for Jeypore-Nabarangpur Project in the backward KBK area.

“Hence, Railway Ministry may be urged to take up this project on top priority,” Patnaik said.

Referring to the demand to improve passenger amenities at major railway stations as well as in trains, Patnaik said, “In this context, it is requested to advise Railways to expedite execution of a world class station at Bhubaneswar and holy pilgrimage town of Puri. Odisha Government has already agreed to bear 50 per cent cost of construction of an ultra-modern station building at Bhubaneswar.”

As Lord Jagannath’s world famous Nabakalebar festival will be celebrated in July, 2015, in which around 50 lakh pilgrims are expected to congregate at Puri, Patnaik said a number of special trains are to be planned and railway infrastructure has to be expanded to cater to the passengers.

Railway projects Iike doubling of Delang?Sakhigopa?Puri, third line between Bhubaneswar?Barang, doubling between Cuttack?Barang and Barang?Rajathgarh should be taken up on priority and finished before March 2015, he pointed out.

“Sufficient funds for these projects should be allocated in the budget for the 2015-16 fiscal,” chief minister said in the letter.