BHUBANESWAR: Kalahandi MP and former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das has given a call for agitation from May 1 demanding establishment of a wagon factory at Narla in Kalahandi district as announced in the 2010 Railway Budget. He gave the call following reported disinterest shown by the State Government towards the project.
As per the agitation plan, all the people of Kalahandi have been requested to sport black badges from May 1 to 6 protesting the ‘step-motherly’ attitude of the State Government towards the district.
Processions will be taken out in all the panchayat headquarters in the district on May 7 and memorandum, addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, submitted.
Das has called upon the people of Kalahandi to cooperate with him for a district bandh and non-cooperation movement for establishment of the wagon factory in the district.
The then Railway minister Mamata Banerjee had announced in the 2010 Budget that wagon factories will be set up in Bhubaneswar and in Kalahandi district. In the next Budget, the Ministry of Railways had requested the State Government to identify land in the district for the wagon factory. However, the Chief Minister wrote two letters to the Railway Minister requesting to set up the wagon factory at Chatrapur in Ganjam district instead of Narla, Das said. He alleged that the request was politically-motivated.
The former Union minister alleged that though land was available at Narla for the factory, neither the State Government nor the Chief Minister ever mentioned in their letters to the Centre about it.
In his letter to general manager of East Coast Railway (ECoR), the Kalahandi Collector had informed on September 12, 2011, that 90-acre Government land was available for the factory at Chapatkhanda, only 6 km from Narla. The collector had also informed that 44.7-acre Government land and 32.79-acre private land of a farmer were also available in Regidimal and Bhatang villages, hardly 1.5 km from Narla, for the factory. Ignoring these facts, the State Government never informed the Centre that land was available in Kalahandi district. Instead, the then Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi announced that the factory will be established at Sitapalli in Ganjam district.
Describing this as a conspiracy against the people of Kalahandi, Das alleged that the Chief Minister was fully responsible for shifting of the factory. Why did not the Chief Minister demand two wagon factories in the State and instead he wrote for only one when the Railway Ministry was prepared for two? Das asked.
Questioning the decision to divert the wagon factory to Ganjam district, Das threatened that people of the district would not tolerate such neglect for long. He warned that the fight against the State Government’s apathy would continue till the demand for the wagon factory in the district is supported by the Chief Minister.