Proposal To Change Route Of Junagarh Link Express Opposed

Rayagada: After the residents of Rayagada and Koraput objected the proposal to change the route of Junagarh-Bhubaneswar Express, Congress MP from Koraput Saptagiri Ulaka and BJD Rajya Sabha member N. Bhaskar Rao have extended their support to the locals in this context. Reportedly, both Ulaka and Rao have written to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal urging him not to consider the request of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who had proposed for a change in the express train’s route.

It is pertinent to mention that Pradhan had recently requested the Railway Minister to run the Junagarh express train via Sambalpur instead of Rayagada, following a memorandum from the Kesinga Citizen Forum in Kalahandi. He had given two options to run the train (via Rayagada-Vizianagaram and via Rayagada-Titilagarh-Sambalpur-Cuttack).

The Kesinga Citizen Forum had urged the Minister to consider the second option (to run the train via Rayagada, Titlagarh, Sambalpur and Cuttack) stating that it would immensely benefit the people of Western Odisha and that Railways would get more revenue.

However, with people of Koraput and Rayagada districts opposing the proposal, the MPs have asked the Railway Minister to run the train via Rayagada instead of Sambalpur.

“The request is not in the larger interest of people availing the services and will deprive people of Western Odisha from their only connection to South Odisha. The people of undivided Koraput district (especially Nabarangpur) as well as people from Kandhamal (border areas with Rayagada district) also avail the train services connecting South Odisha especially Berahampur (due to medical facilities),” said the Koraput MP’s letter to the Railway Minister.

Likewise, Rao in his letter to Goyal urged him not to change the route of Junagarh Express suggesting him to extend or link some trains going to Titlagarh from Bhubaneswar up to Junagarh.

Basudev Patra, an intellectual from Rayagada, said , “Junagarh Express is the lifeline of the undivided Koraput district (Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Rayagada). Therefore, we protest the proposal and request the Railway Ministry to cancel the proposal and run the train in its usual route.”

Meanwhile, the Rayagada unit of Congress party has threatened to hit the streets over the matter. “It is very unfortunate that a proposal to change the route of the train, which connects seven districts of the State, has been made. We condemn it. The Congress party along with thousands of people will stage demonstration to protest the proposal,” said Durga Prasad Panda, Rayagada district president of Congress.