Naveen writes to PM reiterating demands for ‘one Railway zone’ in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: With the Centre announcing to bifurcate Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR) to create a new railway zone named South Coast Railway for Andhra Pradesh with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today reiterated his demands for reorganization and unification of railways in Odisha under one administrative zone of the ECoR.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patnaik today said, “As the government of India has created the SCoR considering the geographical area of the state, the similar demand of Odisha may be considered.

Urging the Centre to declare two new divisions at Rourkela and Jajpur to unify Railways in Odisha under one administrative Zonal headquarters of ECoR in Bhubaneswar, Patnaik said till the Centre moves in this regard, the newly declared SCoR which has been done without consultation with Odisha should not be operationalised.

Patnaik had earlier sought the Centre’s intervention in this regard back in February last year demanding the Union Ministry of Railways to create three new railway divisions at Rourkela, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road and Rayagada under the ECoR to help the railways improve delivery of services.

It is to be noted that Odisha succeeded in getting its first and the only existing railway zone, the ECoR in 2003 with 3 divisions namely Khurda Road, Sambalpur and Waltair divisions. About 70 per cent of Odisha is under the ECoR’s jurisdiction.

It has been alleged that the proposed SCoR  will split the profitable Waltair division under the ECoR zone into two zones, one of which will be incorporated in the new zone by merging with the neighbouring Vijayawada division, the other will be converted into a new division with headquarters at Rayagada in Odisha under East Coast Railway.

Sources said, the Waltair division netted a record Rs 7,053.12 crore revenue, including Rs 6,515.38 crore from freight and Rs 536.73 crore from passenger traffic, in 2017-18.

The proposal for reorganization of railways has been severely criticized in Odisha with both the ruling-BJD and the Congress coming down hard on the Centre for being apathetic to the interest of the State.

With agency inputs..