Railway budget: Naveen urges Prabhu to give priority to Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged the Railway minister Suresh Prabhu to give priority to Odisha in the forthcoming Railway budget.

“Though Odisha is very much below national average as also substantially lower than that in neighboring states, the gross earnings from various stations in Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs 14,000 crore during the year 2014-15. Hence I request you to kindly ensure allocation of a sizeable part of this year’s Railway Budget allocation for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure,” Patnaik said in a letter to the Union minister.

Referring to the steps the state government has taken for railway infrastructure development in the state, the chief minister said his government has already signed a MoU with the Railway ministry for setting up a JV company for taking up new rail projects in the state with cost sharing of 51% by the state government and 49% by Indian Railways. Though the MoU has been signed over three months back, the formation of company is awaiting the clearance of the Union Cabinet, he pointed out.

Reminding the Railway minister of the package of Rs 5000 crore proposed by the state government for the forthcoming Railway budget 2016-17, Patnaik said the package includes detailed proposals for enhanced provisions for the ongoing projects, sanctioning of new lines, upgradation of major stations, surveys, introduction of new trains, extension and increase in frequency of existing mail/express trains, improved passenger amenities at stations, on board services, etc.

He also urged the Railway minister to support the vision of the state government to the backward regions with the national network by commissioning the Jeypore- Malkanagiri and Jeypore- Nabarangpur route.

“I request you to sanction these two new lines in the forthcoming Budget, which can be constructed in the same model of partnership as done for Khurda-Balangir line,” he said.

Besides, the chief minister also urged the Railway minister to start the work for Sambalpur – Berhampur new line via Phulbani and the Raygada-Gopalpur rail link, for which survey has been sanctioned.

Apart from this, he also requested the Railway minister to extend the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Dankuni to Berhampur to ensure seamless movement of freight between the upcoming ports on the Odisha coast including the major port at Paradip and the vast northern and central hinterlands of India.

Referring to the slow pace of work of the Talcher-Bimlagarh new line, doubling of Sambalpur – Titlagarh, Doubling of Angul- Sambalpur, Patnaik requested the Union minister to expedite the work for completion of the ongoing projects in the specified time frame.

Besides, chief minister also sought commencement of works for three new railway routes— Burhamura-Chakulia, Gunupur-Theruvelli and Banspani-Barbil to ensure seamless flow of traffic and easier access between industrial and mining areas and ports.

He also said though the Railway ministry, in the 2009-10 budget, had declared to develop Puri and Bhubaneswar Railway stations as world class stations, there has been no progress on this front.

To meet the traveling need of the daily commuters, Patnaik urged the Railway minister to introduce DMU/MEMU services in Sambalpur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela, Cuttack – Paradip, Berhampur-Balasore corridor and Rourkela-Keonjhar via Barbil, a new train from Puri to Mumbai via Sambalpur and Titlagarh and extension of express service between Bhubaneswar and Keonjhar to Jamshedpur via Banspani.

The chief minister also made request to set up new divisional headquarters at Rayagada, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road and Rourkela by extending the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway (ECoR) to include Banspani-Padapahar section, Bhadrak-Lakhmannath section in Khurda Road Division and Jharsuguda- Barasuan-Kiriburu, Rourkela-Nuagaon and Jharsuguda-Himagiri section in Sambalpur

“As ECoR has become not only the number one loading railway in the country but also has been registering highest growth rate in passenger bookings, this growth in different geographic areas of the state now calls for a reorganization of its administrative structure,” he pointed out.