Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 16:
Construction of a 19-kilometre stretch of railway track of the crucial and much delayed Khurda-Bolangir railway line in Odisha would begin from Bolangir side in December this year.
A decision in this regard was taken at the apex committee meeting attended by the State Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi and East Coast Railway General Manager Rajiv Vishnoi here today.
“As per the MoU signed with Railway Ministry, Odisha government would pay for 50 percent of the cost for construction and total expenses for the land acquisition. In the first phase, the government has agreed to release Rs 10 crore. Railway is also going to put in the same amount towards the project. Work will begin in December,” said Vishnoi.
“We have opened a land acquisition office in Boudh. We have also posted land acquisition officers for Boudh, Nayagarh and Bolangir. They are soon going to start work. The Chief Minister will review the progress of the project every two months. As per railway officials, the project would be completed by 2021,” said Minister Majhi.
Notably, Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had inaugurated a 32-km stretch of track between Khurda Road and Begunia, of the Khurda-Balangir railway line at Begunia this July. Work on the 112-km stretch from Begunia to Daspalla in Nayagarh district is also on.
Work on the 289-kilometre long railway track, sanctioned way back in 1996, has been going on since 2007, but the slow pace of progress has led to protests by locals. Earlier, just before the state assembly elections of 2014, Odisha Chief Minister had promised to pay 50 percent of the project cost to push for the railway line.
The long-delayed railway line would connect western Odisha with the coastal areas, thus paving the way for the cultural integration of the two regions. Besides, it would take railway services to many districts like Nayagarh, Kandhamal Boudh and Sonepur which have no railway lines now.