ROURKELA: How justified is the demand to carve out a separate railway division at Rourkela under the East Coast Railway (ECoR)? Given the continuing neglect towards the infrastructure and passenger amenities over
decades, the demand is gaining momentum.
With apolitical and political outfits jumping on the bandwagon to seek separation of Rourkela from the Chakradharpur division of the South Eastern Railway (SER), the Railway Ministry is likely to feel the heat ahead.
Train Passenger Steering Committee convener and Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Subrat Patnaik in tandem with the members of the Rourkela Development Forum (RDF) and Rourkela Railfanning Association (RRA) are vociferous in their demand. The local BJD unit has gone a step ahead to threaten disruption of mineral transportation by rail if the issue was not sorted out.
Locals feel, in the changed scenario, the triangular districts of Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Keonjhar -
high on industrial and mining activities - would no longer tolerate further neglect as Sundargarh alone annually contributes ` 800 crore to SER.
They claimed even for strategic economic development of Orissa, the proposed new division at Rourkela under the ECoR is the need of the hour.
Inadequate train services and infrastructure apart, the lingering of the proposed Bimlagarh-Talcher rail link is a stark pointer of neglect, they stated.
Even 10 per cent of the revenue generated from the regions is not spent to benefit a population of over 50 lakh.
RDF and RRA members Dilip Mohanty, Mahendra Mishra, Mihir Swain and Supratik Mishra sent a memorandum to the Railway Ministry over the demand claiming the combined revenue share from these three districts is anything over ` 2,200 crore.
The RDF and RRA blueprint proposes 10 routes under the new division and 63 stations covering mining and tribal belts.