Even as the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) members on Thursday demanded in the Assembly that a unanimous resolution should be passed condemning the step-motherly attitude of the Centre towards the State in the railway sector, the Congress retaliated by challenging the ruling party to agree for a debate on funds released by the UPA and NDA for Odisha during the last 13 years.
“Let the State Government agree for a full debate on funds released by the Centre during the period when the NDA and UPA were in power at the Centre and the manner in which the State Government spent it,” said Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh.
Singh said during zero hour that the Congress is not avoiding discussion in the House on any subject including that of the railway sector but the State Government should also agree for a full debate on this issue, he added.
Alleging that the protest by the BJD members in the House against the Railway Budget was a publicity stunt, Singh said the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and the Government Chief Whip should fix a date for the debate.
Maintaining that the State cannot progress without a robust education system, his party colleague Naba Kishore Das said the Government should first take steps to stop question paper leaks without blaming the Centre for every failure.
Stating that the tardy pace of land acquisition was responsible for the delay in all major railway projects in the State, Das asked the Government to expedite the process.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Government Deputy Chief Whip Sanjay Dasburma said Odisha has received a raw deal in the Railway Budget this year also. Funds allocation for all ongoing projects have been inadequate, Dasburma said and added that for Khurda-Bolangir railway line project, only `60 crore has been provided as against a demand of `350 crore.
Dasburma alleged that while the budget is silent on converting Bhubaneswar and Puri into world class stations, only ` 21 crore has been sanctioned for passenger amenities against a demand for ` 221 crore.
Besides, projects are being given to Railway Vikash Nigam Limited (RVNL) whose pace of implementation is very slow, Dasburma said and added that allocations are cut during reappropriation because of the delay.
His party colleague Ranendra Pratap Swain alleged that the State got a better deal from the non-Congress railway ministers compared to a Congress minister this time. His party colleagues Amar Prasad Satpathy, Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, Pradip Maharathi and Bishnu Charan Das and Karendra Majhi (BJP) also supported the demand for a unanimous resolution on Central apathy to Odisha in the railway sector.