BHUBANESWAR: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today asked the East Coast Railways (ECR) to expedite submission of forest diversion proposal to start construction of railway track of the Khurda-Balangir project from Balangir side by December end.
Though the project was sanctioned more than 20 years back in 1994-95, only 41.5 kilometers of the project has been completed till now. The Khurda-Balangir line, which has been a politically sensitive project given the inordinate delay in its completion, was originally estimated at Rs 1,000 crore. However, the project was delayed because of low budgetary provisions and issues of land acquisition. The project cost has now gone up to Rs 2000 crore.
The survey work of the Khurda-Balangir railway line was done before Independence in 1945. But the project got Central approval in 1994-95. However, work on the infrastructure project was started in 2007.
The chief minister, who reviewed the progress of the project, asked Railway officials to take up 90 km project work as the state government has already handed over the required land. Official sources said the state government has identified land for construction of project work up to 19 km from Balangir side and paid Rs 8 crore to ECR.
The chief minister asked the Revenue and Commerce and Transport departments to work in coordination to complete the process of land acquisition.
Of the total 289 km project, construction work in 41.5 km has been completed up to Rajsunakhala from Khurda. So far two up and down passenger trains are plying from Khurda to Rajsunakhala. Work from Rajsunakhala to Bolagarh and Nayagarh is underway. Besides, construction work up to Bolagarh and Nayagarh will start by June next year and by 2017 respectively.
Construction work is also going at different stages from Daspalla to Balangir. The state government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Railways on July 20 this year to undertake some projects on a cost sharing basis.
As per the MoU, the state government would bear the total cost towards land acquisition and 50 percent of the total project cost which is estimated at ` 2000 crore for the Khurda-Balangir railway line.