With atleast six railwayline projects dragging on for more than a decade, the Odisha government has pinned its hope on ehnanced allocation in the railway budget for 2015-16 to be presented on Thursday.
Railway network in Odisha remains grossly inadequate with seven backward tribal dominated and Naxal-hit districts totally excluded from the railway map. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who met railway minister Suresh Prabhu in December in New Delhi emphasised the need for adequate funds for completion of ongoing railway projects. The memorandum requested the railway minister to allocate `3200 crore for Odisha.
The focus is on five ongoing projects, four of which were sanctioned more than ten years back. These include Khurda-Bolangir rail project (289 km, sanctioned in 1994-95), Haridaspur-Paradeep SPV project (82 km, sanctioned in 1995-96), Angul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV project (90 km, sanctioned in 1997-98), Talcher-Bimlagarh (154 km, sanctioned in 2004-05) and Jaleswar-Digha (40 km, sanctioned in 2010-11).
The Khurda-Balangir railway line has turned into a politically sensitive issue because of the delay due to low budgetary provisions over the years and incomplete land acquisition. The project, sanctioned in 1994-95, was originally estimated at `1,000 crore. The project cost has now gone up to `1995.25 crore.
The Railway Board has so far sanctioned 112-km stretch of the 289-km line. While the first 32-km stretch is complete, the next phase will comprise completion of the line till Raja Sunakhala measuring a total of 46-km. The 66-km stretch till Nayagarh is likely to be completed by the end of 2015-16.
Though Haridaspur-Paradip railway line project was conceptualised about 20 years back, land acquisition was started in 1997. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been set up to complete the ` 275 crore project. A SPV has also been set up for the Angul-Duburi-Sukinda Special Railway project whose cost estimate has gone up to `1100 crore.
The Talcher-Bimlagarh project had got nod from both the Ministry of Railways and the Planning Commission in 2004.
But with a paltry allocation of only `96 crore against cost estimate of `786 crore work was delayed.
The state government has also demanded that Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur railway line projects proposed by it should be sanctioned for creating railway infrastructure in the tribal dominated and Maoist affected Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur districts.
Other demands include, introduction of Rajdhani express via Sambalpur, Puri-Bhubaneswar-New Delhi via Angul and Sambalpur and Cuttack-New Delhi express trains.
The first railway budget of the Narendra Modi government made an allocation of `1,420.98 crore for Odisha against `868.8 crore in 2013-14.