BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is hopeful of better deal from the NDA Government in the Railway Budget, which would be presented on Tuesday.
The State has been ignored during the UPA regime. Allocation for Odisha during the last five years crossed `1,000 crore only once in 2011-12, while several pending projects received paltry allocation in the Railway budgets over the years.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who wrote to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, has demanded an allocation of `3,160 crore for the State in 2014-15 budget. The Railway route and density in Odisha is below national average as also substantially lower than the neighbouring States, Naveen said in the letter to the Prime Minister.
The Chief Minister said the gross income from various stations in Odisha in 2013-14 was more than `14,000 crore.
He requested Modi to ensure allocation of a sizeable part of the revenue generated in Odisha for the State for strengthening and expanding railway infrastructure.
The BJD expects that the Centre will deal with Odisha in a better way this time. Leader of the BJD parliamentary party in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahatab said that more allocation for Odisha is expected in the Railway Budget. He said expenditure of 50 per cent of the earnings from a railway zone should be utilised in that zone for strengthening infrastructure.
But the Congress blamed both the Centre and the State Government for the neglect of Odisha in the Railway sector. The BJD has done nothing for utilisation of budget allocation in the sector except blaming the Centre for neglect for garnering votes, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said.
Mishra said Odisha has been neglected by both the NDA and the UPA in the past and the unfinished Khurda-Balangir railway line in an example of this.
Criticising the Centre for going back on its words by raising railway fare, LPG and petrol prices, Mishra said allocation for Odisha in Railway Budget cannot be predicted. He, however, alleged that there is a great difference in what the Modi Government announces and implements.
The State BJP, on the other hand, maintained that allocation for Odisha will increase in the budget. But the expenditure is never utilised fully in the State, BJP spokesman Sajjan Sharma said.
Allocation for Odisha in 2013-14 Railway Budget was ` 869 crore compared to `714 crore in 2012-13.