Odisha government today placed a demand of Rs 6,500 crore before the Centre for railway infrastructure development in the 2018-19 budget. The demand includes detailed proposals for ongoing projects, sanctioning of new lines, station modernisation, introduction of new trains, extension of existing trains, improved passenger amenities at stations, on board services, establishment of rail-based industries, multi modal logistic parks and others.
“I enclose herewith a detailed proposal of about Rs 6,500 crore for the state of Odisha for your consideration and inclusion in Budget 2018-19,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
Patnaik said Odisha generates an annual revenue for Indian Railways in excess of Rs 15,000 crore. “Yet the average route length, with density (16) in the state is much less than the national average (20), and even considerably lower in comparison to adjoining states (West Bengal: 43.4 and Jharkhand: 24.3).
With its state’s GDP growth rate is almost 20 per cent, higher than the national average, Odisha has been steadily evolving as a major industrial and mineral hub as well as the eastern gateway to the nation owing to the multiple functional ports, he said in the letter.
Importance of world class rail infrstracture is a pre-requisite for rapid development as well as to aid the growth of economy, he said adding that a cursory glance at the railway map would show that the major expanse of rail network is aligned to the spinal connectivity between Howrah and Chennai and large parts of Odisha have remained untouched by railways.
Therefore Odisha government has demarcated rail connectivity as a “priority area’ with mandate to extend reach of rail network to each and every district of the state with focus specially on the regions that have not got the opportunity to grow with rail connectivity.
Patnaik identified some rail lines like Brahmapur-Phulbani-Sambalpur, Bargarh-Nuapada via Padmapur, Bhadrachalam-Malkangiri, Talcher-Gopalpur, Gopalpur-Singur Road New BG line (via Padmapur, Ramanguda, Bankili) and Lanjigarh-Talcher.
These rail links traverse mainly through unconnected and backward districts which are full of natural resources. These links will also be facilitating mineral movement by establishing linkage with southern Odisha as well as provide shorter connectivity to Gopalpur port.
“I request you to sanction these important new lines in the forthcoming Budget, which can bring prosperity along with connectivity to the needy areas. Apart from these, I have proposed to bear 50 per cent of the construction and land cost for a line connecting Puri-Konark, the most important section of the state and a popular international destination,” Patnaik said in the letter.
Though Patnaik said he was glad for the SPVs for Angul-Duburi-Sukinda and Haridaspur-Paradip rail links, the performance is far from satisfactory. “I would also seek early actiom from Railway Ministry to start the process of running of passanger trains in these two projects, which are passing through backward and unconnected areas in the state,” he said.
The chief Minister also iterated the state’s demand of running a new train by the name of ‘Bakshi Jagabandhu Express’ in honour of front line freedom fighter Bakshi Jagabadhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra.
Patnaik also urged Goyal to initiate the East Coast dedicated freight corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada and East-West dedicated freight corridor from Jharsuguda to Bilaspur to ensure seamless movement of freight between upcoming ports on the Odisha coast including the major port at Paradip and the vast northen and central hinterland of India.
Patnaik also named certain projects which experience slow pace of execution. These are Talcher-Bimlagarh and Jaleswar-Digha new lines, doubling of Sambapur-Titlagarh, Titlagarh-Raipur, Sambalpur-Talcher and Daitari-Keonjhar-Bansapani and third line of Bhadrak-Nergndi-Vizianagaram stretch.
The letter said that Talcher-Angul, Paradi-Dhamra, Champua-Anandapur-Jajpur and Barsuan-Bansapal-Badbil lines need immediate sanction in order to ensure seamless flow of traffic and easier access between industrial and mining areas and ports.
These apart, Patnaik said Puri-Konark and Keonjhar Road-Jajpur (Via Aradi) links are equally important for pilgrims visiting the religious destinations at Puri and Biraja Kshetra respectively.
The chief minister said the state govenrment is fully committed to provide all necessary support to the Railways ministry for expeditious execution of different prorjects in the state.
“I am hopeful that our proposals pertaining to Railways will be given due considertion in the Budget 2018-19, thereby fulfilling the rightful aspirations of my state and its people,” Patnaik said in the letter.