Train movements on the busy Howrah-Mumbai route are slowing down life in and around the growing Rourkela city and its surrounding areas in the industrial and mining district of Sundargarh where not a single level-crossing has road-over-bridge (ROB).
The steel city is equally divided by rail tracks of South Eastern Railway (SER) connecting Howrah and Mumbai. SER sources informed that on an average, 134 passenger and goods trains ply on the route daily and on that count, one train passes in every 10 minutes.
Forceful halting of trains by the commuters at ITI and STI level-crossings is a regular affair. The two level-crossings connect the Industrial Estate, Chhend Colony and BPUT, Reserve Police Line, Rourkela special jail, a government ITI and a Government diploma college with rest of the city. A few kilometres away, the IDC and Kalunga level-crossings dividing several medium and small industries and several villages face the same fate. The Kukuda level-crossing at Bondamnunda too remains closed most of the time.
The adjacent Rajgangpur town, about 35 kilometres from Rourkela, having a population of around 50,000 is also badly affected due to train movements on SER tracks and captive tracks of cement major OCL India Ltd.
Rourkela Development Steering Committee (RDSC) convenor Subrata Patnaik said the SER has agreed to set up eight ROBs on 50:50 cost sharing basis with the State Government. He attributed the delay to the State Government. He said a delegation of RDSC left for New Delhi on Sunday to take up the issues of railway infrastructure development and better train connectivity with the Prime Minister and Railway Minister.
If administrative sources are to be believed, the Government is reluctant and wants private investment. Yet, the approach lacks stimulus. PWD Executive Engineer SP Sutar claimed that feasibility surveys for ROBs at ITI and STI would be done in October and subsequently Kukuda, IDC and Kalunga level-crossings will be considered.
Sources said given the past experience of such projects, it would not be before five years that commuters can hope for any respite.