State asks Railways to restore budgetary allocation

Bhubaneswar: Terming reduction in budgetary allocation to railway projects in the state as a "gross injustice", the state government today demanded restoration of the allocation made for the year 2012-13. "I strongly protest against the step-motherly attitude of the Railways to Odisha. I further request you to take immediate steps to restore the budgetary allocation made for the state for the year 2012-13," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Railways Minister Mukul Roy.

Stating that the authorities have reduced an amount of Rs 186 crore from the budgetary allocation to different projects in the state, Patnaik said that Indian Railways earned revenue to the extent of Rs 7,500 crore in the last financial year. Railways had allocated only Rs 723 crore against the state`s projected total demand of Rs 2,345 crore for different projects in 2012-13 budget. "Now suddenly again the Railways have announced this reduction which will go against the interest of the state," Patnaik said.

The state, which was in the midst of a rapid industrialisation, required different railway projects to facilitate industrial climate in the state, he wrote in the letter. Reduction in the budgetary allocation would greatly hamper the industrialisation process and hurt the common mam in creation of passanger amenities at different railway stations, Patnaik said. The state government also asked the Railways to commission Khurda Road-Puri section (doubling) before Lord Jagannath`s Nabakalebar Fesitival in 2015.

Patnaik in a separate letter to Roy pointed out that the existing Khurda-Puri branch line was sanctioned for doubling during the 2000-01 but so far only a stretch of 15 km from Khurda to Delang had been commissioned, while the remaining 28.7 km was yet to be completed. "In order to meet the increased demand of train service for the next Nabakalebar festival, the line capacity of Puri-Khurda branch line has to be increased urgently," he said.

Though about 10 lakh pilgrims throng Puri during the annual car festival of the Lord, Nabakalebara being a special occasion which comes in a gap of about 20 years, will attract about 50 lakh devotees. The previous Nabakalebar which held in 1996 witnessed congregation of more than 20 lakh people at Puri. Therefore, the state government wanted immediate commissioning of the double line to Puri, Patnaik said.