Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 4:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today wrote to Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking a higher package, new trains and better railway infrastructure for the state in Railway Budget 2016-17.
Patnaik, in his letter, cited that the railway route length and rail density in Odisha is way below the national average whereas the gross earnings from the state is estimated to be in excess of Rs. 14,000 crore during the year 2014-15. He requested Prabhu to allocate a sizeable part of this year’s Railway Budget allocation for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure.
“For the forthcoming Railway budget 2016-17, I have already proposed a package for Odisha for your empathetic consideration. This package of Rs 5000 crores includes detailed proposals for enhanced provisions for the ongoing projects, sanctioning of new lines, upgradation of major stations, surveys, introduction of new trains, extension and increase in frequency of existing mail/express trains, improved passenger amenities at stations, on board services, etc,” wrote Patnaik in his letter.
“Odisha Government has already signed the Odisha state specific umbrella MoU with Railway Ministry for setting’up a JV company for taking up new rail projects in the state with cost sharing of 51% by Govt of Odisha and 49% by Indian Railways. Though the MoU has been signed over 3 months back, the formation of company is awaiting Cabinet Clearance of Central Government on signing of the agreement between Govt. of Odisha and Indian Railways. I request MoR to expedite signing of the agreement so that the new projects in the state then can be taken up through the defined route envisaged in the MoU,” his letter added.
Patnaik further offered that the State Government would bear 25% of construction cost for the Jeypore Malkanagiri line and 50% of the construction cost along with free land for the Jeypore-Nawarangpur line, in order to connect the left wing extremist hit areas where Railway has been reluctant to take up projects because of low rate of returns.
Given the delay in formation of state specific JV, he requested Prabhu to sanction Jeypore Malkanagiri line and Jeypore-Nawarangpur line in the forthcoming Budget, so that it can be constructed in the same model of partnership as done for Khurda-Bolangir line of Odisha. Besides, the Chief Minister batted for sanctions for other key projects such as Sambalpur – Berhampur new line via phulbani, Raygada-Gopalpur Rail link in the coming Railway Budget.
The Chief Minister also sought for an extension in the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Dankuni to Brahmapur, Burhamura-Chakulia, Gunupur-Theruvelli, Banspani-Barbil and suggested that the progress on Talcher-Bimlagarh new line, Doubling of Sambalpur – Titlagarh, Doubling of Angul-Sambalpur, Khurda Road junction Bypass line need to be accelerated.
He took up the promise of development of Puri and Bhubaneswar Railway stations as world class stations and reminded the minister that little has been done so far.
“Ministry of Railways should consider sanctioning station buildings with modern facility at Bhubaneswar New and Naraj as green field stations and modernize the old station buildings of Puri and Cuttack. It may be noted that development of these stations requires budgetary support of Railway as PPP mode has not yet been successful in this part of the country,” he wrote.
“I request you to establish new Divisional HQs at Rayagada, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road and Rourkela by extending the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway (ECoR) to include Banspani-Padapahar section, Bhadrak-Lakhmannath section in Khurda ‘Road Division and Jharsuguda-Barasuan-Kiriburu, Rourkela-Nuagaon and Jharsuguda-Himagiri section in Sambalpur Division,” the letter added.
Besides, he sought help of the ministry for a detailed planning for rail based city transport system or a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in greater Bhubaneswar region that includes Cuttack too. At the same time, he demanded a new train service from Puri to Mumbai via Sambalpur and Titlagarh and requested the existing express service between Bhubaneswar and Keonjhar needs to be extended to Jamshedpur via Banspani in his letter.
Further, Naveen sought Prabhu’s intervention in the much awaited Wagon Factory at Sitalapali in Ganjam, that has not progressed at all over last 5 years and requested him to introduce DMUIMEMU services in Sambalpur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela, Cuttack – Paradeep, Brahmapur-Balasore corridor and Rourkela-Keonjhar via Barbil.