House Committee to meet Railway minister on Jan 6

Bhubaneswar: Almost a month after a delegation of BJD MPs met Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu over budget allocation to Odisha, members of Odisha Assembly’s House Committee are scheduled to meet the minister and request him to enhance allocation to the state in the ensuing rail budget.

Official sources said the Committee, led by Assembly Speaker Niranjan Pujari, will present a memorandum to Prabhu demanding Rs 5,000 cr allocation for Odisha in the rail budget. Prabhu has given his consent to meet the delegation to discuss the matter in New Delhi on January 6, the sources added.

Before the meet, a draft memorandum detailing allocations sought against specific projects has been prepared after a high-level meet chaired by Pujari. While a demand of Rs 1,050 crore will be placed for ongoing rail projects in the State, Rs 2,200cr and Rs 335cr will be proposed for double line and electrification works respectively, sources said.

Soon after the meeting, BJD chief whip Anant Das said, “We have prepared a draft memorandum of Rs 5,000 crore which will be discussed tomorrow before handing over to Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on January 6.”

Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra stated, “Besides a railway wagon factory in Odisha, we will demand train connectivity between western Odisha and New Delhi via Titlagarh Bolangir and Sambalpur.”

Talking to media about the draft memorandum, Member of House Committee on Railways, Pratap Jena said, “We will draw attention of the Centre to start rail services in six districts of Odisha.”

Though the delegation has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the matter, it is yet to receive a confirmation from the PMO, sources added.

On December 8 last year, BJD MPs led by Bhartruhari Mahtab and Prasanna Patsani had met Prabhu and submitted a memorandum demanding an allocation of Rs 5,576.50 crore in the budget.

“The minister gave a patient hearing to our demand and assured us for more allocation,” said Mahtab after the meeting.

During the hour-long meeting, they had also urged the minister to facilitate passenger trains on the Koraput-New Delhi via Jagdalpur and Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar via Koraput routes..

The MPs also urged Prabhu to expedite the process of making the Bhubaneswar a world class railway station.

“The MPs apprised me of the demand and I would try for more allocation to Odisha,” said Prabhu.

On December 2, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asking for a Rs 5,000-crore package for the State.

Patnaik maintained that though the State generated revenue worth over Rs 14,000 crore for Railways during 2014-15, the railway route length and rail density in the state are well below the national average and substantially lower compared to the neighbouring States.

In the 2015-16 railway budget, Odisha had received an allocation of Rs 2,514.07 crore against its demand for Rs 3,200 crore. The allocation for the state in the rail budget was 77.04 per cent higher than the Rs 1,420 crore the State received in 2014-15.

}