Odisha: BJP government faces pressure to resolve Rourkela Railway project stalemate

Encroachment remains a stumbling block in execution of the projects
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

ROURKELA: Following regime change in Odisha, it remains to be seen if the BJP government takes up pending proposal of Sundargarh district administration for rehabilitation of encroachers with low-cost housing to expedite stalled projects of South Eastern Railway (SER) at Rourkela.

Sources said the third line project as part of the busy Howrah-Mumbai main line of SER was made operational from Jharsuguda to Kharagpur a couple of years back. However, the 5.5 km stretch in Rourkela is yet to start functioning over encroachment issues. From 2017 onwards, SER had on several instances, tried to push for the third line project, but faced stiff resistance from all political parties over the demand for rehabilitation of encroachers. Till now, the project has not been taken up in Rourkela and alternatively the existing Rourkela-Birmitrapur line is being used as the third line.

It is learnt, in a revised proposal, SER in the end of 2017 had initiated desperate efforts to evict 766 households to clear 25 metre from the Rourkela-Birmitrapur track on the northern side for the third rail line project. It also wanted to clear encroachment along the Up track on the southern side for future projects which would affect 801 households. At a meeting with the authorities of the Chakradharpur Division of SER on May 30, 2018, the then Sundargarh collector Surendra Kumar Meena taking a humanitarian view had proposed the SER to provide 20 acre from its huge land bank for rehabilitation of the affected families with affordable housing scheme as a permanent solution.

The administration had argued that the central housing scheme for all carries a clause as per which land of central or state governments could be used for the purpose. Apparently, reluctant to part with railway land, the Divisional authorities of the SER had reportedly said the proposal would be forwarded to higher authorities for consideration.

SER sources confided during subsequent discussions for eviction the rehabilitation demand cropped up, but SER is of the view that rehabilitation is not its responsibility. Besides the stalled third line project at Rourkela the proposal for setting up a road over bridge (ROB) over Malgodam level-crossing and development of the circulating areas of the second entrance of the Rourkela railway station on northern side too are hanging fire simultaneously over encroachment issue. Sources said around five months back, notices were twice served for removal of around 155 unauthorised households at Indiranagar slum for further development of the second entrance.

BJP’s Panposh organisational district President Latika Patnaik said housing for all is a dream project of the Narendra Modi government, adding she hopes that with BJP governments at the Centre and state, SER would cooperate for rehabilitation of the affected families.

Moving slow

5.5 km stretch of Howrah-Mumbai main line yet to be made operational

SER’s move to move forward with the project opposed by political parties

Proposal for ROB over Malgodam level-crossing also hanging fire over encroachment

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