ROURKELA: Despite being one of the significant revenue generators for the Indian Railways, the industrial and mining district of Sundargarh continues to be a victim of Railways’ neglect.
If old-timers are to be believed, the proposals for creation of a Railway Division and setting up a wagon factory in Rourkela are five decades old while the demand for laying the Bimlagarh-Talcher rail line is 40 years old.
Those fighting for these causes in renewed initiatives have pinned hopes on the Narendra Modi-led Government at the Centre to get the legitimate dues of the district which alone earns a revenue of around `800 crores.
General secretary of Railway Users’ Association (RUA) Amulya Baral said as proposed in 1960s, a new rail division should be carved out from the Jharkhand-based Chakradharpur Division of South Eastern Railway (SER) and its headquarters be made at Rourkela after merger with the East Coast Railway (ECoR). Baral claimed that while Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), the country’s first public sector steel industry, was set up, it was provisioned to create a rail division in Rourkela.
In 1962, the then chief minister Biju Patnaik had successfully proposed for establishing a wagon factory for use of steel sheets and plates of RSP. For the purpose, above 4,000 acres of land at Bondamunda were provided to SER. But with passage of time and lack of able political leadership in the district, the proposals were lost in oblivion, he said.
Sources said Bondamunda houses the country’s second largest marshalling yard and second largest locomotive shed in eastern India.
Baral further said some vested interest groups are presenting misleading facts about the location and distance suitability of Rourkela. At least 12 divisions in the country are located within 10 to 116 kms.
Rourkela is located 180 kms from ECoR division, Sambalpur and 100 kms from Chakradharpur. The proposed division in Rourkela has around 550 kms of rail route and after completion of new routes, it will increase to 895 kms.
President of Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and Rourkela Development Steering Committee (RDSC) Subrata Patnaik said railway infrastructure growth is not possible until the creation of a new division in Rourkela.
Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram has assured to expedite the proposals of creation of Rourkela Rail Division and setting up wagon factory at Bondamunda.
Early completion of the ongoing Bimlagarh-Talcher rail link project will also be ensured, Oram said.