Bhubaneswar, Dec 24:
Pointing out that railway route length and rail density in Odisha is well below the national average and substantially lower than in neighboring states, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allocate Rs 3,160 crore for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure in 2014-15 financial year.
“While the gross earnings originating from various stations in the state of Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs14,000 crore during the year 2013-2014, the railway route length and rail density in Odisha is well below national average. I would request you to kindly ensure allocation of a sizeable part of the revenue generated from Odisha within the state itself for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure,” said Patnaik in a letter to Singh.
Stating that the Central government had initiated many ambitious projects like dedicated freight corridors aligned with mega industrial hubs, national road expressways and high speed train projects, he said that it appears to have completely bypassed the state although some of the country’s largest investments in the steel, aluminium and power sectors are coming up here.
“The volume of investments in the state in diverse sectors at different stages is in excess of a staggering Rs.8, 85,000 crores. My government has taken important steps to create greenfield ports that shall be the country’s gateway to international maritime trade for coastal shipping between the east and west coasts of India. Besides, it is expected that the growth in rail borne traffic will be in excess of 300 MMTPA in the next five years,” said the Chief Minister.
Stressing the formulation of a synchronized development plan between those of the ports and related rail connectivity to maximize economic gains, Patnaik said; “In this context, the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni should be extended to Brahmapur so as to ensure seamless movement of freight between the ports and the vast northern and central hinterlands of the country.” said Patnaik.
The chief minister also made an appeal to provide rail connectivity to the backward regions as lack of infrastructure has been one of the major reasons impeding ed the socio-economic growth of this region.
Maintaining that delivering rail services in the Naxal affected regions is one of the best means to channelize development therein and provide a counter active force, Patnaik said the construction of Bhadrachalam Road-Talcher rail link via Malkangiri, Jeypore, Lanjigarh, Sambalpur-Brahmapur new rail link via Phulbani and Rayagada-Gopalpur rail link via Bhismagiri assume importance. He urged the Prime Minister to treat these projects as “National Projects’.
As the state has proposed dedicated rail corridors in the Angul-Talcher Coal belt, Basundhara Coal belt in Jharsuguda-Sundargarh and Banspani-Nayagarh iron ore region, Patnaik requested Railways to consider setting up of an SPV for these projects, which are proposed to be co-habited by multiple users and developed through participative funding.
“There is a constant demand to improve passenger amenities at major railway stations as well as in trains. In this context, it is requested to advise Railways to expedite execution of a world class station at Bhubaneswar and holy pilgrimage town of Puri,” said the chief minister.
He informed that the government had agreed to share the cost of construction of an ultramodern station building at Bhubaneswar.