Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 5:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sought clarity from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu over media reports on shifting of wagon repair factory from Narla in Kalahandi to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
“I hope that recent reports on the shifting of the wagon maintenance workshop from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh are untrue and I would request a line of confirmation from you to assuage the feelings of neglect and hurt which people of the state have suffered,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote in his letter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The recent media reports insinuating shifting of a wagon maintenance workshop from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh is a matter of concern for Odisha. To recapitulate, in Railway Budget 2013-14, the then Minister of Railways had declared setting up of a ‘New Wagon Maintenance Workshop in the Kalahandi district of Odisha’. For this project, the state government had offered two patches of land measuring 70.02 ac and 44.70 ac near Narla Road Station, he said.
East Coast Railway, after the budget announcement, requested state government for permission to draw water from Tel River for free or at a subsidised rate. The state government, in view of benefit to the state, granted complete exemption of Water Tax. This was communicated to East Coast Railway immediately 1n December, 2013, he informed.
Meanwhile, in the Railway Budget of 2015-16, another new wagon maintenance workshop for ECoR at Visakhapatnam has been sanctioned but no allocation has been made for the already committed workshop at Kalahandi. Again in the Budget 2016-17, there is no allocation of fund for the proposed Kalahandi workshop.
“As you are aware, Kalahandi, a part of the KBK area of Odisha is in dire need of industrialisation. Railways have three large coach/wagon workshops in Andhra Pradesh, whereas Odisha has no wagon workshop. For that matter, East Coast Railway, which is largely present in Odisha and is the No.1 loading railway zone of Indian Railway, does not have a single wagon maintenance (POH) workshop. It is natural and logical that a Railway Zone that does more than 70% of its loading and unloading in Odisha require a maintenance workshop in the same state,” Patnaik demanded.
It may be mentioned here that the district unit of the Congress has called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh tomorrow in protest against the shifting of the proposed railway wagon repair factory from Narla in Kalahandi district to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.