Pressure on BJP as Naveen reiterates rail division demand at Rourkela

BJP’s Sundargarh MP Jual Oram supports the Chief Minister’s move

Published: 21st November 2022 07:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2022 07:43 AM   |  A+A-

Naveen Patnaik

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

By Express News Service

ROURKELA: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s insistence on a new railway division at Rourkela has not only strengthened Steel City’s long-standing demand but also increased pressure on BJP before the 2024 general elections.

On Saturday, Naveen once again wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the creation of a new railway division at Rourkela under the East Coast Railway (ECoR) covering Jharsuguda-Barsuan-Kiriburu, Rourkela-Nuagaon and Hemgir-Jharsuguda sections of South Eastern Railway (SER). As part of his demand for the unification of railway networks in Odisha, the CM also sought a railway division at Jajpur-Keonjhar Road and the inclusion of left-out areas in the upcoming Rayagada division. Earlier in March 2019, Naveen had made a similar demand. 

With this move, Naveen has found an unlikely supporter in his bitter critic Jual Oram, the incumbent Sundargarh MP from BJP and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. “I have been pressing for this demand for a long and I support the CM on this,” said Jual who has been unsuccessfully demanding for a new railway division at Rourkela for the last 15 years including during his tenure as a Union Minister.

Sources said with this demand, the BJD has created pressure on the BJP in western Odisha where the party is a divided house over the creation of a new railway division at Rourkela. Despite it being known as Jual’s old demand, Bargarh MP and BJP’s national secretary Suresh Pujari had sought a new railway division at Jharsuguda in November last year.  

Incidentally, the Railway Ministry is seemingly not inclined to the idea of a new division at Rourkela with the bifurcation of the lucrative Chakradharpur Division (in Jharkhand) of the SER. Out of total 742 km route length of Chakradharpur Division, 406 km runs through Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Keonjhar districts and some parts of Mayurbhanj. Almost 60-65 per cent of the freight revenue of Chakradharpur Division is contributed from the Odisha districts with Sundargarh being at the top.

During his visit to Jharsuguda in November last year, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav had kept mum on the demand for a division at Rourkela. On July 10 this year, Railway Board Chairman VK Tripathi avoided a direct reply on the matter but said the board will examine the demand. It is a wrong concept that division status would enhance the importance and development of the Rourkela region, he said.

India Matters


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