Bhubaneswar, March 4
Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha today accused the ruling BJD government of failing to acquire and hand over land to the railways in time, causing “undue delay” in several projects of the public sector behemoth.
Sinha, who launched a slew of railway facilities at a function here, said the Centre is committed to speedy implementation of the projects, but the Odisha government must cooperate by expediting the process of land acquisition.
“Several railway projects in Odisha have made tardy progress as the state government is yet to hand over the required land,” the Minister of State for Railways and Communication said.
“The sooner the required land is made available, the quicker the rail projects will be completed. Our priority is to complete all projects as early as possible,” he said.
Noting that there is no dearth of funds, the minister said around Rs 27,000 crore has been allocated for the railway sector in the state during the last five years.
Citing an example, he claimed that adequate land is yet to be given for the ongoing 289-km Khurda-Balangir rail line project.
“While some land has been provided, railways require additional 327.93 acre in Nayagarh, 2,059.43 acre in Boudh, 528.31 acre in Sonepur and 38.96 acre in Balangir, which the state government is yet to provide,” Sinha said.
Out of the 289-km, Khurda-Balangir rail line, work has been completed “only on 66 km from Khurda Road to Nayagarh and 15 km from Balangir to Bichhupali”, an official said.
Earlier in the day, the student and youth wings of the BJD staged a demonstration near the East Coast Railway (ECoR) headquarters, ahead of the minister’s programme, protesting the alleged bifurcation of Waltair division of ECoR.
BJD leader Sanjay Dasburma slammed the Centre for its decision to “bifurcate the ECoR” at a time when it is earning “Rs 20,000 crore as revenue every year”.
However, Sinha asserted that not even a “single inch” of railway line in Odisha has been given to any other division.
“There is no reason for Odisha to worry as the Centre will set up a new railway division under the ECoR at Rayagada, which will ensure development of the region,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the function.
Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was also present on the occasion, said bifurcation of Waltair division was done as per provisions laid down for reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh.
“When the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was discussed in Parliament, not a single BJD MP raised any objection… Why are they shedding crocodile tears now,” he said.
On the occasion, Sinha made announcements of service extension of Gondwana Express up to Sambalpur and Jharsuguda via Talcher, and also new stoppages of several other trains in Odisha.
He also dedicated new escalator and foot over bridge at Brahmapur railway station as well as improved circulating area at Talcher railway station.
The Minister also laid the foundation stone for new escalator at Bhubaneswar railway station.
He also dedicated 280 Rural Wi-Fi Hotspots and Wi-Fi Choupal Project of Common Service Centre (CSC) for 100 Gram Panchayats of Jagatsinghpur district, 400 2G-based transmission stations and 480 3G transmission stations, Comprehensive Pearl Archive Network for 708 sites and Multi-Protocol Lable Switching Transport-based Packet Aggregation Network (MNH-PAN) of BSNL.