ROURKELA: It was a disappointing Railway Budget for the denizens of the industrial and mining district of Sundargarh who were hoping for an announcement of new railway division at Rourkela with Union Minister Jual Oram and Odisha Government favouring the demand.
The budget came as a blow for all major political parties and a host of apolitical outfits who have been consistently demanding creation of new railway division at Rourkela, railway infrastructure growth in the district along with introduction of new trains and extension of existing key trains to Rourkela.
There was hope for a railway division after Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram raised the issue several times with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the past. The State Government also backed the move and last month RN Pali MLA of BJD Subrat Tarai had handed over a memorandum to Prabhu in this regard.
Tarai said they were disappointed as the demand for new railway division for Rourkela was ignored despite Sundargarh being a major revenue contributor for Chakradharpur Division of South Eastern Railway (SER).
He said in 2014-15, freight revenue of SER was Rs 6,062.81 crore and Chakradharpur division in Jharkhand generated around Rs 4,038 crore. Of Chakradharpur’s total freight revenue, the combined contribution of Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Jharsuguda districts was between Rs 2,600 crore and Rs 2,700 crore. Sundargarh was the highest freight revenue generator among the three Odisha districts, he added.
Rail Users’ Association (RUA) general secretary AC Baral said it is surprising that the legitimate demands for some new trains and extension of key trains were not considered.
Rourkela Development Steering Committee president Subrata Patnaik said growth in railway sector in the district is not possible until creation of a new division in Rourkela and they would continue to fight for it.
The only silver lining for Sundargarh was the allocation of Rs 150 crore for Talcher-Bimlagarh track laying, while the ongoing third track laying project of 101 km between Rourkela and Jharsuguda got Rs 10 crore. About Rs one crore each was earmarked for road over bridges at ITI and STI level crossings.
Jual, in a statement, lauded the budget describing it passenger-friendly with thrust on improving the quality of travel. He said Modi Government has given highest ever allocation of Rs 4,682 crore to Odisha.