BHUBANESWAR: Amid push for infrastructure growth in the interim Union budget 2024-25, Odisha has been allocated Rs 10,536 crore, up by 5.23 per cent from the previous budget, for the development of railways. The budget allocation was Rs 10,012 crore in last fiscal.
The budget allocated for railways in the state is the fifth highest in the country after Uttar Pradesh (Rs 19,575 crore), Maharashtra (Rs 15,554 crore), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 15,143 crore) and West Bengal (Rs 13,810 crore). The allocation has increased 12 times in one decade as the state’s share was only Rs 838 crore in 2013-14. Odisha, on an average, has been receiving Rs 10,000 crore annually for the last three years for improving rail connectivity, safety and passenger amenities across the state.
Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said the budgetary provision of Rs 10,536 crore for railways in Odisha is the highest-ever allocation for the state in a fiscal. Apart from ongoing projects, a whopping Rs 52,000 crore will be spent in the state as part of new investment, he said.
Vaishnaw said several projects, including Khurda-Balangir and Talcher-Bimlagarh, pending long have been prioritised and new ones sanctioned for Junagarh, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Jeypore, Malkangiri and Bhadrachalam sections, which did not have rail connectivity earlier. The work will start after land acquisition is completed, he said. As many as 58 railway stations are being redeveloped under Amrit Station scheme. While Vande Bharat train is plying on two routes in the state, Vande Sleeper will be introduced in March this year. Subsequently, Vande Metro will be introduced for people commuting between cities separated by a distance of 50 km to 60 km.
“In the first phase, the shuttle service will be rolled out on Cuttack-Bhubaneswar-Puri route and later extended to routes like Sambalpur-Rourkela, Sambalpur-Jharsuguda, Talcher-Angul, Balasore-Bhadrak and Cuttack-Paradip,” Vaishnaw said.
The railway minister informed Odisha will also have its share of connectivity and infrastructure in the three new railway corridors - energy, mineral and cement corridor, port-connectivity corridor (Rail Sagar) and high-traffic density corridor (Amrit Chaturbhuj) under which 40,000 km of new track will be added as announced in the interim budget.