Monday, June 30, 2014

Letter to Railway Minister: Consider backward pockets of profit making zones especially for railway infrastructure and factories

Dear Honorable Railway Minister Sri Sadananda Gowda,

Corruption in railway could be even worst than 2G scams; it is surprising that the states that contribute maximum return to railway’s own development are underprivileged not only from railway infrastructure development but also while establishing railway coach and other ancillary factories by Ministry of Railway.

Despite ECOR being one of the most profit making zones of Indian railways, railway ministry has been unfairly treating Odisha and Chhatisgarh (another profit making zone) since decades, whereas many loss-making projects in Bihar and West Bengal were approved and completed due to influence of former railway ministers.

Additionally, major railway development and factories were approved in Rae Bareli, Amethi, Chaptra, etc. ONLY due to powerful political leaders rather than due to actual source of raw materials like coal or iron supply for railway’s own requirements, thus, states like Odisha, Chhatisgarh etc. that supply coal, iron, steel and aluminum for railway infrastructure and manufacturing unit are dispossessed. Although many projects approved in other parts of the country has moved, the work of proposed low budget Wagon Maintenance Workshop in Kalahandi and Wagon Factory in Ganjam have not yet started.

The site in Kalahandi (Narla road) is located at the junction of three public sector steel plants in Bhilai, Rourkela and Visakhapatnam. It is also close to MCL coal blocks in Angul (via Lanjigarh road-Talcher) and Jharsuguda (Titilagarh-Jharsuguda route). National alumina supplier, NALCO, is located very close to it. Therefore, this location is an ideal place and very much in the interest of railway to establish railway coach and manufacturing factory instead of Rae Bareli or Chhapra.

Most of the railway lines Khordha road –Balangir, Talcher-Bimalagarh, Lanjigarh road-Junagarh extension to Jeypore to Bhdrachalam road, Dhamtari-Jagdalpur, Raipur-Rajim-Debhog-Junagarh, Talcher-Lanjigarh road, Angul-Sukinda, Kantabanji-Jeypore, etc. are not progressing as desired due to diversion of funds to other states by powerful political leaders.

As per railway’s own estimate many of the loss making routes in Bihar and West Bengal have been approved for new railway line and have been also completed timely but it took 25 years to complete 56 km Lanjigarh road- Junagarh railway line as part of Lanjigarh road-Ambaguda line. Junagarh-Ambaguda section of this route is not even sanctioned. Progress of another important line Khordha road-Balangir is moving in snail’s space. For these projects, railway only sees the loss making, whereas Kolkata metro despite making huge loss did not count for the ministry or railway.

Both Chhatisgarh and Odisha have lower than national average of railway track per 1000 km and need special considerations.

It is good that railway has given special emphasis for development in North Eastern state and Jammu and Kashmir. KBK, Kandhamal, Kanker, Jagdalpur, Raipur, Dhamtari, etc are among the worst Maoists affected districts in India. KBK is also one of the backward pockets in the country and faces similar social and political problem that includes tribal population, hilly terrain, backwardness, etc.

Howrah-Chennai route has been congested and a route via Kharagpur, Baripada, Talcher, Lanjigarh road, Junagarh, Nabarangpur, Jeypore, Malkangiri, Bhadrachalam road and Vijaywada will not only decongest the route but also bring development to many tribal dominated districts of the nation. The proposed route also makes another possible route to connect Hyderabad directly with Ranchi and Patna (via Titlagarh-Junagarh) or Kolkata (via Baripada-Lanjigarh road-Bhadrachalam road).

I appeal that Indian railway should immediately look into the railway projects in Odisha and Chhatisgarh to accomplish in a timely manner in next five years and establish a new railway coach factory at Narla road of Odisha for the reasons mentioned above.

With best regards
Digambara Patra

Honorable Prime Minister of India, Sri Modi
Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha, Sri Patnaik

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