BHUBANESWAR: With only three days remaining for the Union Government’s 2015-16 Railway Budget, the State Government is hopeful of enhanced provisions for the ongoing projects for their completion.
The projects under focus include the 289 km Khurda-Balangir railway line, the 82 km Haridaspur-Paradip railway line sanctioned in 1995-96, Anugul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV project, Talcher-Bimlagarh and Jaleswar-Digha railway lines.
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 Rs 1,000 crore. The project cost has now gone up to Rs 1,995.25 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 see 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 Rs 275 crore project. An SPV has also been set up for Angul-Duburi-Sukinda Special Railway project whose cost estimate has gone up to Rs 1,100 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 Rs 96 crore against cost estimate of Rs 786 crore, work got delayed.
Even as the Assembly Committee headed by Speaker Niranjan Pujari failed to meet either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu for submitting Odisha’s memorandum before the presentation of the Railway Budget, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has demanded Rs 3,200 crore for Odisha with a focus on ongoing projects.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Naveen raised the issue of inordinate delay in the completion of Khurda-Balangir railway line due to paucity of funds.
The Opposition parties, however, criticised the State Government for its lack of sincerity in pursuing Central funds for railway projects. The Assembly Committee only met twice and no memorandum was discussed, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said.
In the first meeting, only Khurda-Balangir railway project was discussed. The discussion was not complete. Mishra alleged that the State Government is yet to identify land to be acquired for Nayagarh-Balangir stretch of the Khurda-Balangir railway project.
However, the first Railway Budget of the Narendra Modi Government made an allocation of Rs 1,420.98 crore for Odisha against Rs 868.8 crore in 2013-14.