Pradeep Pattanayak

State Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu on Sunday wrote a letter to Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw urging him to sanction new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada via Padampur. 

Referring to an announcement made by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan at a public meeting, Sahu said he had on December 15, 2018 announced that the government has sanctioned the project. 

“It may be noted that since the year 2018, CM Naveen Patnaik and our Government have been requesting Ministry of Railways to sanction the important railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur. The project has a Rate of Return (RoR) of 17.31% as per study undertaken by East Coast Railway and communicated to Ministry of Railways in January 2019,” read the letter.

In her letter, Sahu said, “This railway project can offer an important communication link to the people of the two districts of Odisha and act as a potential catalyst for rapid economic development of Western Odisha. With this new line, the Western Odisha region will get a shorter and quicker connectivity with the coastal Odisha through the Khurda — Bolangir line.”

Despite the high RoR, which is beyond the requirement for approving a new line, the Ministry of Railways in 2019 communicated that the proposed new line has been shelved as it didn't appear to be financially viable, Sahu informed the Union Railway Minister in her letter. 

“Later in October 2019, Railway Board asked the State Government to contribute free land and RR cost for land acquisition for considering the project. And on this request, CM approved not only free land for the entire project (Private. Government and Forest Land) but also pledged Rs 300 crore towards construction of the project, so that it becomes even more lucrative for Indian Railways to sanction the project. The same has been communicated to Ministry of Railways,” Sahu said. 

Sahu mentioned that she had received a memorandum already submitted to the Chief Minister from the people of Padampur requesting sanction of the important new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur.

“Odisha Govt has always prioritised infrastructure development in the western and southern Odisha and built Biju Expressway for accelerated economic development in the region. We request you to come forward and invest in this important railway line and be a partner in the socio-economic development of Padampur and adjoining region,” Sahu said in her letter to the rail minister.