Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Khurda, Jul 16:
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today flagged off the first-ever train to run on Khurda Road-Begunia section of the Khurda-Bolangir track at Odisha’s Begunia station.
The railway minister dedicated the 32-kilometre stretch to the commuters at Begunia which is a part of the 289-km Khurda-Bolangir rail project.
Along with Prabhu, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also flagged off the first passenger train on the new line, which will shuttle four times a day.
Besides, the minister also inaugurated new railway station buildings at Begunia and Khurda town.
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Rajya Sabha MPs Pyarimohan Mohapatra and Baishnav Charan Parida, Panchayati Raj Minister Arun Sahu and MLA Prashant Jagdev were also present on the occasion.
During his address, Prabhu said that Rs 195 crore had been sanctioned for Khurda-Bolangir line and efforts were being made to complete work up to Rajsunakhala beyond Begunia by September.
Notably, work on the Khurda-Bolangir route, survey for which was done before Independence in 1945, started in 2007. While work on the 112-km stretch from Begunia to Daspalla in Nayagarh district was going on, plans were made to begin work from Bolangir side. The Khurda-Bolangir route would link coastal Odisha with the western region of the state.
“India will develop if the rail lines in Odisha are improved. This is because Odisha is rich with minerals. If we can provide rail line to ports and mines in Odisha, the country can gain a lot. For this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had allocated Rs 3, 400 crore in the Railway Budget for Odisha,” Prabhu said.
Likewise, steps are being taken to start work on Angul-Sukinda and Talcher-Paradip lines. Besides, a skill development centre would be opened at Begunia, he announced.
Speaking at the function, the chief minister said that the state government had extended all possible help to the Centre. The state government would bear 50% of the project cost and it would provide land free of cost for the Daspalla-Bolangir route. The distance between Bhubaneswar and Bolangir will be minimised to a great extent. The railway link would contribute to economic development of the backward areas.
Patnaik also urged the minister to extend railway network to districts like Kendrapara, Deogarh, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Boudh. He also proposed construction of Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur lines.