No rail wagon factory at Sitalapalli, reveals RTI

Bhubaneswar: Four months after the Centre decided to shift out the proposed rail wagon maintenance workshop at Narla in Kalahandi district, Odisha has suffered another setback in the railway sector. The reply to an RTI query has revealed that there will be no rail wagon factory at Sitalapalli in Ganjam district.

The answer to the query filed by Bolangir-based RTI activist Hemant Panda further revealed that the unit can’t be set up due to ‘reduced wagon requirement.’

“Railways are unable to commence the project for setting up of the wagon factory at Sitapalli on account of reduced wagon requirement vis-a-vis available wagon manufacturing capacity in both private and public sector,” the response from Railway Ministry read.

In this year’s Railway Budget, a token amount of Rs 1,000 was allocated for the manufacturing unit that had raised serious “doubts” over the project’s implementation.

The factory, supposed to be implemented in public-private partnership (PPP) mode was announced in 2011-12 by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and had sought around 100 acres of land.

The ruling BJD has predictably pounced on this opportunity to reiterate its cry of ‘Central neglect’.

“I can’t understand what prompted the Centre to decide within three years of the proposal that the requirement for wagon has fallen. This is really disappointing and is yet another instance of the Centre’s a step-motherly attitude towards Odihsa,” BJD’s Berhampur MP Siddhant Mohapatra said.

The Congress has also criticised the Narendra Modi-led NDA government for withdrawal of the project from the district.

“The NDA government is stopping the project purposely and is playing a political game. The decision will certainly prompt the people of the district to hit the streets,” Congress leader and former Union minister Chandrasekhar Sahu stated.

In April, the Centre had confirmed that the Narla rail wagon project, announced in 2013-14 railway Budget, had been shifted from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh due to “feasibility” reasons.