ROURKELA: Lingering for more than a decade, the much-awaited Bimlagarh-Talcher broad gauge railway line project seems to be picking up pace to meet the deadline of December 2022 under the close watch of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Sanctioned in 2003-04, the project was included under PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) initiative for effective monitoring and reviewing by the PMO every month.Sources said 50 years back, a massive protest was held in 1969 over the rail line project. After a wait of 34 years, the project was sanctioned in 2003-04 by the AB Vajpayee Government. Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram had played a key role in it.
But the Congress-led UPA-I and II governments did not give much importance to the project between 2004 and 2014. A total of `200 crore was sanctioned in 10 years with no visible progress on the ground.
After Jual started his second innings in 2014 in the same Ministry, he gave a push to the project. The key rail infrastructure project continued to face hurdles related to private land acquisition, alienation of Government land and diversion of forest land.
East Coast Railway (ECoR) sources said a total of 2,088 acre of private, Government and forest lands are required. Till February, merely 466 acre were taken in possession while process is underway to acquire the balance 1,621 acre.As per reports, the BJP Government at the Centre has sanctioned `1,132 crore for the project in the last five years.
The anticipated project cost is about `1,928 crore. With a route length of 149 km, the project, running through Sundargarh, Deogarh and Angul districts, envisages to reduce the distance between Rourkela and Bhubaneswar by about 347 km against the present distance of 462 km via Sambalpur.
Rourkela Steel Plant Executives’ Association president Bimal Bisi, who has been pursuing the issue with the PMO, said 39 km railway line from Talcher has been completed. Another 20 km between Talcher and Sunakhani is likely to be made operational by May-end. Work is going on in full swing on 12-km stretch between Sunakhani and Talcher. Land acquisition from Bimlagarh in Sundargarh would be completed by June-end, he added.
2,088.77 acre total land required
466.795 acre acquired
1621.975 acre being acquired