BALANGIR: Ahead of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s visit to Balangir on August 22, leaders of different parties and civil society organisations raised issues like pending railway projects in the district and sought fast-tracking of those. The minister, who is on a four-day visit to Odisha as part of BJP’s ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’, is also scheduled to visit Nabarangpur on Saturday and Kalahandi the next day.
Former MP Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo in a letter to the Union Minister on Friday, put forth a list of demands that include declaration of the Balangir-Khurda rail connectivity as a national project, tagging Balangir station as ‘model’ station, Ispat express train extension till Balangir, railway gates conversion into over bridges/under bridges, stoppage of Puri-Durg express at Muribahal station and Balangir-Bicchhupali passenger train extension upto Bhawanipatna.
He also drew the attention of the minister to seek direct train to Delhi from Sambalpur and Sambalpur to Prayagraj via Balangir and Titilagarh, weekly train from Hatia to Yashwantpur and a railway coach maintenance unit between Deogaon-Balangir railway station near Matkhai.
Similarly, Pramod Mishra, leader of Koshal State Coordination Committee, highlighting the plight of the 289-km Khurda-Balangir railway project which was approved in 1994 at as estimated cost of `230 crore, said the project has been inordinately delayed. The escalated cost is now at over Rs 3,000 crore and only 76 km from Khurda side and 16 km from Balangir to Bicchupali have been completed.
“I urge the Minister to expedite the project and initiate a proposal to connect Balangir and Harishankar Road through Patnagarh,” added Mishra. He also raised the issue of around 750-acre land acquired by the Railways lying unutilised in Kantabanji and proposed construction of a loco shed or wagon factory there.