NABARANGPUR: With the Railway Budget scheduled to be placed in Parliament on Thursday, people of the district are once again hoping that the Nabarangpur-Jeypore railway line will get the much needed shot in the arm.
Decades of agitations and demands have failed to move the Centre as railway connectivity continues to elude the backward district of Nabarangpur which comes under Schedule Area dominated by tribals.
Last year, the State Government had signed an MoU with the Railway Board to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for implementation of the proposed project. The Government had agreed to bear 50 per cent construction cost and provide land for the rail line.
Locals have been urging the Government to consider railway project in the KBK region as national project. They demanded early completion of Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh-Nabarangpur-Jeypore-Malkangiri-Bhadrachalam line. Survey work for this line was over long back and work from Lanjigarh Road to Junagarh in Kalahandi district has been completed. This line will pass through most of the Maoist-infested and tribal-dominated areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Congress leader and former MP Pradeep Majhi said during his tenure, he had proposed a new railway line from Nabarangpur to Kantabanji via Dabugam-Jharigam-Dharamgarh-Khariar which will benefit people of Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Balangir districts of KBK region.
However, during the UPA regime, no attention was paid to any of these demands.
The BJD MP of Nabarangpur, Balabhadra Majhi, who was an engineer with Indian Railways, had made the issue his poll plank during campaigning for the last General Elections.
Balabhadra said the Railway Ministry is now reluctant to implement the proposed Nabarangpur-Jeypore rail line citing that the project will not be a profitable one.
The statement has led to strong resentment in the area. Locals said the Indian Railways makes huge profit from its operations in Odisha.
“The current policy of the Railways is flawed and detrimental to the backward areas like KBK. The profit mostly comes from transporting minerals available in the backward districts of the State,” they said. Absence of railway connectivity is attributed as the primary reason for backwardness of the district, they added.