Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Justifications for Rail Network in KBK region

Lanjigarh road-Amaguda route
Kalahandi-Balangir- Koraput (KBK) region in Odisha is a multi-facet backward region due to hilly backwardness, tribal populated backwardness and backward due to natural calamities. Similar backward regions in India like North Eastern States have received special treatment by railway board where as KBK region has been neglected since decades. Even hilly region like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand have received special package in railway by Govt. of India. Many of the railway projects in North Easter states have been declared as national project. Coincidentally, for irrigation projects KBK region is considered long with North Eastern states by the central Government. Nevertheless, railway projects in KBK region have not received any special treatment as national projects. Naxal activities are predominantly high in KBK region due to poor communication and poor infrastructure. It is also important to note that railway infrastructure in Odisha and Chhatisgarh is substantially low compared to national average despite both the states are in the profit making zones, where as railway infrastructure in Bihar and West Bengal are remarkably high though they are in the loss making zones. East Coast Railway Zone is one of the larger profit-making zones, and a large portion of this profit comes from Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line passing through KBK region. In this KK line, railway lines between Koraput-Kothavalasa is e-special category railway route where many tunnels and high-level bridges are present, which limits the speed to less than 50 kmph. At the same time number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these this routes. Similarly, other possible railway route, Koraput-Rayagada is also e-special category railway route having many tunnels and high-level bridges. Thus, a new route that will increase the speed limit and number of wagon during mineral transportation from Jagdalpur (Chhatisgarh) to Visakhapatnam is needed. In fact, in 1962-63 it was pointed out in the parliament that Mr. Parkers had done a railway line survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line. Subsequently, in 1990-91 Amabguda-Lanjigarh road railways line was proposed to make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier.  In 1991, Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line was approved and this 56 km line took 25 years to get completed due to negligence by railway ministry. At the same time survey of Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route has been completed, but this portion of this route has not yet been approved. There are other industrial proposals in this region, which will be benefited from the proposed railway route. Therefore, Junagarh-Amaguda line should be immediately approved and completed.

Lanjigarh road-Talcher route or Kharagpur-Bhadrachalam road route
Proposed Lanjigarh road - Phulbani – Talcher railway route is another important rail network in KBK-Kandhamal region, which is under survey. This line will connect Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Titilagarh (Balangir dist), Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts with Bhubaneswar (Odisha’s state capital) by joining with Khurda-Balangir line near Boudh. This will not only bring first time railway network to Kandhamal district but also make accessible to large part of inaccessible KBK and Kandhamal region from the state capital directly. Beside that this line will facilitate alumina/coal transportation for NALCO from its refinery in Damajodi to its Smelter in Angul by reducing distance about 100 km. Other industries like Utkal alumina, Vedanta alumina (now Sesa Sterlite) etc in this region will also be benefited. Most importantly, 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). Thus, Lanjigarh road - Phulbani – Talcher line should be immediately approved for construction.

Raipur-Lanjigarh road-Gopalpur port route
This Lanjigarh road – Berhampur-Gopalpur line along with Raipur-Rajim-Junagarh will make direct connection between Nagpur/Bhilai and Gopalpur via Raipur. This route will make access South East Asian countries from Raipur, Bhilai, Nagpur and central India via Gopalpur port. This will further reduce distance between Gopalpur port and Nagpur and make Gopalpur port as competitive as Mumbai port from Nagpur or central India region. At the same time it will bring railway infrastructure to the Maoist and tribal dominated region and connect Behrampur, Kalahandi and Debhog (Raipur) region with Raipur and Nagpur. Survey work of Raipur - Rajim - Debhog - Junagarh is almost complete and this route should be approved immediately. This will also establish a direct connection between Raipur and Talcher along with Talcher-Lanjigarh road route. Similarly, new survey should be done for Lanjigarh road-Gopalpur railway line to directly connect Bhilai steel plant with Gopalpur port. Beside social development in KBK-Kandhamal-Ganjam region, this line may be exploited commercially by many steel, iron and coal plants in Bhilai and Raipur regions to connect with Gopalpur port as well as coal rich Talcher/Angul region.

KBK line covering 5 KBK districts

Similarly, Kantabanji-Jeypore railway route will connect Balangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur and Koraput. It will also help in directly connecting Koraput with Raipur region. The route has been surveyed and should be immediately approved.

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