Rail Budget: Odisha chugs on hope express

Bhubaneswar: Despite the fact that seven districts of Odisha are yet to have rail tracks, expectations are running high among the citizens for a fair deal for the state in Tuesday's Rail Budget. On February 5, a 23-member house committee of the Odisha Assembly led by speaker Pradeep Amat submitted a pre-Budget memorandum of budgetary allocation of Rs 3050 crore for Odisha to Union Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

The proposal included new lines and other projects and over two dozen new trains including five Durontos in the coming Rail Budget one of which include a train between Bhubaneswar and Mumbai and the other one between the state capital and Bangalore.

Also, in view of the Nabakalebar ritual of the three deities to be held in 2015, expectations of devotees are multiplying manifold to get world class stations for the state capital and Puri which were announced in 2010 Rail Budget.

“Since the Minister has accepted our proposal with a serious note, we hope that Odisha should be paid due attention for allotment of projects and funds in the ensuing Railway Budget," said Amat.

The committee has also demanded to conduct a survey for connecting Jharsuguda to Allahabad touching under-developed regions in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh and extension of the eastern dedicated freight corridor project up to Berhampur.

Meanwhile, concerned over slow pace of socio-economic development in Mayurbhanj district, Union Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has reportedly written a letter to Bansal last week highlighting the need for better rail connectivity in the "most backward and underdeveloped area" of the state.

In the run-up to the Railway Budget for 2013-14, the state government has pitched for sanctioning of new rail projects like Bargarh-Nuapada via Padampur, Talcher-Gopalpur, Puri-Konark, Rupsa-Bangriposi to Gorumahisani, Berhampur-Phulbani, Khurda-Rajathgarh bypassing Bhubaneswar and Rayagada-Gopalpur via Gunupur.

Notably, the Centre had allocated Rs 723 crore in 2012-13 against the state’s demand of Rs 2345 crore and slashed about Rs 280 crore in three phases.  Similarly, allocation for the state in 2011-12 Rail Budget was Rs 1168 crore while it demanded Rs 2085 crore. The centre had sanctioned Rs 836 crore in 2010-11 Railway Budget for Odisha against it’s demand of Rs 1805 crore.