Naveen protests cut in rail budget, demands restoration

Bhubaneswar: Protesting against Railway minsitry's cut in budgetary allocations to Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday demanded immediate restoration of the original allocation for 2012-13.

"I strongly protest against this unilateral reduction in the budget for Odisha for the third time during this year itself. I request you to take immediate steps for restoration of the original budgetary allocation made for 2012-13 fiscal," Patnaik wrote to Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Patnaik's letter was sent a day after the state government learnt of the additional reduction of Rs 60 crore from the budgetary allocation of East Coast Railways. The cuts were Rs 15 crore each from the major on-going Khurda Road to Bolangir and Talcher to Bimlagarh projects and Rs 30 crore for the doubling of the Talcher-Sambalpur railway line.

"In June 2012, an amount of Rs 186 crore was reduced from the original budgetary allocation of Rs 723 crore provided in the original budget announced on March 14, 2012 and this was again reduced by Rs 34 crore in September 2012," Patnaik mentioned in the letter.

This was against the state government's projected demand of Rs 2345 crore for different projects for 2012-13, he said adding Odisha contributed more than Rs 7,500 crore revenue annually to the Railways.

"It is a matter of regret that Rs 280 crore has been reduced out of the paltry budgetary allocation of Rs 723 crore. Such repeated reductions in budgetary allocation and that too thrice in a year will greatly hamper the process of improving the rail connectivity in Odisha and lead to abnormal delay in completion of railway projects," he said.

BJD put up a blockade on the issue at the ECoR headquarters here, while its MLAs raised it in the assembly and also staged a dharna near Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the premises protesting against the Centre's alleged step-motherly attitude towards Odisha.

The party also threatened to intensify the stir if the Centre did not withdraw its decision.