Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Railway development in KBK region

Date: 9.2.2015

Honorable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi

Honorable Railway Minister Sri Suresh Prabhu
Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha Sri Naveen Patnaik
Dear Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Modi,
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 KBK region in Odisha, whereas many loss-making projects in Bihar and West Bengal were approved and completed due to influence of former railway ministers.

(1) 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 have not yet started.  Surprisingly, no allotment of fund was made for Wagon Maintenance Workshop at Kalahandi in last budget. 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.

(2) In 1962-63 late MP Sri Pratap Keshari Deo had pointed out in the parliament that Mr. Parkers had done a railway line survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line, because Koraput-Kothavalasa and Koraput-Rayagada are e-special category railway routes having many tunnels and high-level bridges, the speed is limited (often less than 50 kmph) and number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these two routes. The idea is Amabguda-Lanjigarh road railway line will make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier.  Realizing this in 1991, Laniigarh road-Junagarh line was approved to connect with KK line at Ambaguda via Nabarangpur. 56 km of Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line of this route took 25 years to get completed, however, surveyed Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route has not yet been approved which will bring railway connection to tribal dominated Nabarangur district. KK line is one of the most profit-making routes of Indian railway. Immediate action is needed for approval and completion of rest of Junagarh-Ambaguda line without any delay. 

(3) Though separate East Coast Railway Zone has been established, the new zone has not given much importance towards train connection in place like KBK. Among the far off places Kalahandi, Naupada, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Malkangiri and Koraput are one of the worst sufferers in terms of train connectivity with Odisha’s state capital. Recently there is a proposal to separate out Visakhapatnam division to form a new railway zone. Therefore, to a new railway division at Bhawanipatna should be considered, as Bhawanipatna will serve the purpose and interest best for whole KBK, Kandhamal, Gajapati and Boudh districts of Odisha where railway infrastructure is minimum. 

(4) Please speed up the progress of Khordha-Balangir connecting state capital with Balangir, Boudh, Sonepur and Lanjigarh road - Phulbani – Talcher line connecting Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Titilagarh (Balangir dist), Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts with Bhubaneswar (Odisha’s state capital), which joins Khurda-Balangir line near Boudh. Lanjigarh road - Talcher rail line 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.

(5) Similarly, extension of Ispat express from Howrah-Titilagarh to Bhawanipatna/Junagarh road, Bhubaneswar-Balangir intercity to Kesinga, and Visakhapatnam-Rayagada passenger train to Junagarh road/ Bhawanipatna is urgently needed.

We appeal that Indian railway immediately looks into the railway projects in KBK region to accomplish in a timely manner in next five years for the reasons mentioned above.

With best regards

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