Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 8:
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s reaction to the Union Rail budget presented today in the Parliament was uncharacteristically subdued as he avoided criticism and merely underlined a few reservations, while expressing hope that the Railway Ministry will address the state’s issues and demands in the near future.
It was interesting to find the chief minister Naveen Patnaik-who has all along cried hoarse over Centre’s neglect and pounced upon every opportunity to train his gun on the Central government- accepting the rail budget as fait accompli.
The chief minister, of course, had a couple of ‘serious reservations’ on the Centre linking rail fare to fuel price and creation of a new railway zone for Seemandhra, which will include parts of Odisha.
“Odisha had requested for projects worth Rs 3160 crore and I understand that budget worth Rs 1420 crore is being sanctioned for Odisha,” said Patnaik in his reaction to the railway budget.
The chief minister, who has always been blaming the Centre for the delay in the execution of the Bolangir-Khurdha project, had only this to say: “You all know the state government has agreed to provide 50% cost of construction and land free of cost for Bolangir Khurdha project. An amount of Rs 100 crore has been kept in the Railway budget for the same.”
The chief minister, however, expressed serious concern over thr creation of a new zone for Seemandhra by bifurcating Visakhapatnam division and urged the Ministry to protect the interest of the backward regions of Odisha which come under this division.
“We have a serious concern about creation of new zone for Seemandhra by bifurcating Visakhapatnam. We have raised serious objections to this and I hope Ministry of Railway will consider our just request to protect the interest of backward regions of Odisha,” said Patnaik.
The chief minister also criticised the proposal for linking the railway fare with fuel price.
“As regards to the proposal for linking the railway fare with fuel price, I apprehend that this will affect the common man and expose them to vegaries of fluctuations in fuel price. I hope railways will address this concern in right earnest,” said Patnaik.