BHUBANESHWAR: The State Government today demanded a Rs 5,870 crore package in the 2017-18 budget for development of railway infrastructure in the state where rail density is less than the national average.
Even as the state generates an annual revenue of over Rs 15,000 crore for Indian Railway, the rail density (train kilometres per running track) is less than the national average and much lower in
comparison to adjoining states of West Bengal and Jharkhand.
"I reiterate that this package will help both the state and the Indian Railway in furthering their goals of economic and social justice," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Patnaik said the package include the ongoing projects, new lines, station modernisation, introduction of new trains, extension of existing trains, improved passenger amenities at stations, on board
service, establishment of rail-based industries and multi-modal logistics parks as proposed by the State.
Since a large parts of the state including the tribal districts has remained untouched by the Railways, he demanded rail connectivity from Gopalpur to Singapur Road broad gauge line (via Padampur,
Ramnaguda, Bakili), Bhadrachalam to Bimlagarh, Bargarh to Nuapada via Padampur and Talcher to Gopalpur.
The proposed rail links will traverse through the unconnected and backward districts which are full of natural resources and facilitate mineral movement by establishing linkage with southern Odisha and provide shorter connectivity to Gopalpur port, the five-page letter said.
Stating that the volume of investments in mining and metal sectors is about Rs 8.85 lakh crore, the Chief Minister said the rail borne traffic is expected to grow in excess of 450 million tonnes per
annum (MTA) in the next five years.
He requested the Railways minister to initiate the East Coast dedicated freight corridor from Kharagpur to Vijaywada and east-west freight corridor from Jharsuguda to Bilaspur to ensure seamless movement of freight between the upcoming ports on the Odisha coast along with major ports at Paradip and the vast
northeastern and central hinterlands of India.
The chief minister also referred to the slow pace of execution of the already sanctioned railway projects in the state. He urged Prabhu to expedite the work of Jaleswar-Digha new line, doubling of
Sambalpur-Titlagarh, third line of Bargarh-Bhubaneswar, doubling of Titlagarh to Raipur line, Talcher-Bimlagarh and Daitari-Kenojhar-Bansapani lines.
He further requested the Union Minister to develop the proposed new Bhubaneswar station with all modern facilities of international standard and put a mass rapid transit system in greater Bhubaneswar region.
He said the growth rate in different geographic areas of the state calls for a reorganisation of the administrative structure of East Coast Railway by establishing new divisional headquarters at
Raygada. Jajpur-Keonjhar Road and Rourkela.