A delegation led by Odisha Assembly Speaker Niranjan Pujari on Wednesday met Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at New Delhi and presented a memorandum seeking allocation of Rs.5,000 crore for the state in the 2016-17 Railway Budget.
Significantly the Railway Minister is understood to have told the members of the delegation that he had provided a considerable amount to Odisha in the last railway budget even before the state had voiced its demand.
Reliable sources said there were indications that the allocations made in the last railway budget had not been fully utilised due to several reasons like delay in land acquisition, contractor&’s backing out etc.
The much talked about Khurda-Bolangir line is also yet to get forest and environment clearance for certain stretch of the line and it was indicated that application for the said clearance has also not been made.
However, the project work is going ahead and work order for the 19km stretch from Bolangir side has been issued.
The delegation was a big one and everyone wanted to speak, said the sources when asked whether the expenditure or utilisation of funds of last budget and reasons for the delay was discussed.
Speaker Niranjan Pujari told reporters “We have sought Rs.5,000 crore for Odisha in the ensuing Railway Budget, while giving top priority to ongoing projects. We have also given priority to projects in KBK region”.
As for the detailed memorandum submitted on Wednesday, the state has once again underlined the point that Odisha contributed more than Rs.14,000 crore revenue to the Indian Railways, but the railway route length in the state was an average of 15.03 km per 1000 sq km as against a national average of 19 km.
The rail density is highest in Delhi (138) followed by West Bengal (43), Punjab (41), Haryana (36), Hihar (35.9) whereas Odisha is at a lowly 15 km, it stated.
The industrial development in the state, setting up of SPVs for development of rail infrastructure were highlighted.
While extension of the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway was also sought, creation of another railway division at Rayagada under ECoR, establishment of a wagon factory was also demanded.
The state has also asked for a railway apprentice training centre to be established at Koraput. The Ludhiana-Dankuni Eastern dedicated freight corridor should be extended from Dankuni to Berhampur via Haridaspur so that upcoming ports at Dhamra, Kirtania, Astarang, Gopalpur as well as Paradip are linked to the northern and central hinterland, said the memorandum.
It also contained a list of ongoing railway projects, conversion, doubling, passenger amenities, new trains, world class railway stations.