BHUBANESWAR: With opposition Congress calling a bandh in Kalahandi against the reported shifting of the proposed rail wagon repair factory from Narla in Odisha, ChiefMinister Naveen Patnaik today sought confirmation on the matter from Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Patnaik in a letter to Prabhu said, "I hope that recent reports on the shifting of the wagon maintenance workshop from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh are untrue and I would request a line of confirmation from you to assuage the feelings of neglect and hurt which people of the state have suffered."
The Railway Minister in 2013-2014 budget had sanctioned a wagon repair factory at Narla in Kalahandi district but Indian Railway reportedly decided to shift it to Vishakhapatanam in Andhra Pradesh.
Patnaik in his letter said the state government had already offered two pieces of land measuring 70.02 acres and 44.70 acres near Narla Road Station. It had also assured water availability for the proposed factory.
He said East Coast Railway after the 2013-14 budget announcement had requested the state government for permission to draw water from Tel River for free or at a subsidised rate.
However, the state government in view of benefit to the state granted complete exemption on water tax and this was communicated to ECR immediately in December, 2013.
The chief minister said, meanwhile in the Railway budget of 2015-16 another new wagon maintenance workshop for ECoR at Visakhapatnam was sanctioned but no allocation has been made for the already committed workshop at Kalahandi.
In the 2016-17 Railway budget too there is no fund allocation for the proposed Kalahandi workshop.
"As you are aware, Kalahandi, a part of the KBK area of Odisha is in dire need of industrialisation. Railways have three large coach/wagon workshops in Andhra Pradesh, whereas Odisha has no wagon workshop. For that matter, East Coast Railway, which is largely present in Odisha and is the No.1 loading railway zone of Indian Railway, does not have a single wagon maintenance (POH) workshop. It is natural and logical that a Railway Zone that does more than 70 per cent of its loading and unloading in Odisha requires a maintenance workshop in the same state," Patnaik added.