Rail budget slash draws flak; BJD activists stage demo

Bhubaneswar: A recent slash of Rs 60 crore in Railway Budget allocation for the state, third in six months, has elicited severe flak from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with party activists staging economic blockade at the East Coast Railway headquarters here at Chandrasekhapur on Tuesday.

BJD youth wing president Sanjay Das Burma said, “Despite ECoR’s revenue generation of Rs 8,500 cr in last fiscal, the Railway Ministry this year allocated Rs 725 cr for infrastructure development in state against our Rs 2,345cr demand. Besides, it has also slashed about Rs 280 cr in three phases from the allocated budget.”

“We are no more going to tolerate such step-motherly attitude of the UPA government and if the Ministry does not take any step to withdraw the decision in the coming days we’ll hit roads to intensify the stir,” rued Das Burma.
On the other hand refuting charges levelled by the BJD, Congress MP Bhakta Charan das said in the recent past the state government had failed to complete several high-cost projects citing land acquisition issues. “I don’t think Rs 60 crore cut in budgetary allocation is a big issue. The state government must concentrate on completing the projects in time to claim more allocations.”

Earlier in September, the Railways had reduced Rs 34 crore from the budgetary allocation of the state. The money was meant to be spent for the ongoing broad gauge rail link projects which aimed to connect Khurda with Bolangir, Kalahandi with Jharsuguda and Talcher with Bimalagarh.

A similar move was also observed in June this year, when the ministry had cut Rs 186 crore from the original budgetary allocation.

In October Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter to the Railway minister said, “Such reductions time and again would result in delay in completion of railway projects and lead to the discontentment among the people.”