Non-resident Odia (NRO) Prof Digambara Patra of the American University of Beirut, who is a native of Kalahandi, has lamented the shifting of the much-touted railway wagon maintenance workshop from the district, urging the Government of India to reconsider its decision.
In a letter to the President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Patra said since the wagon unit is a much desired project for Kalahandi, known for its endemic poverty and backwardness, the Government should not go for shifting it.
He said the project was okayed in 2010-11 Railway Budget in the form of a wagon factory.
However, due to State politics the wagon factory was shifted to Ganjam district, which is under construction. A subsequent strong public and intellectual protest in Kalahandi region resulted in further announcement of a railway wagon maintenance workshop in 2013. Then Railway Minister was Mamata Banerjee and Mukherjee was Finance Minister. However, recently the Railway Ministry has clarified about shifting of the workshop to Visakhapatnam citing feasibility study.
Parta questioned how the project was announced in the Parliament without a feasibility study then? Since such an announcement was especially made after keeping strong public reaction in mind, railway should have taken utmost care about the feasibility and other technical study before announcing any new project in Kalahandi. Now Kalahandi should not be penalized for the mistake made by the Railway Ministry, Patra argued.
The educationist also maintained that keeping strong public and regional sentiment of one of the backward pockets in India in view, shifting of such establishment to a neighbouring State without even considering alternative location in the same district is completely immoral and unethical.