Odisha’s Naxal-affected Malkangiri is set to get its first railway line by 2022 with the Union Cabinet giving its nod to the project that is expected to cost over Rs 2,676 crore, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced on Tuesday.

While making the announcement, he also said that connecting Naxal-affected areas through railways is the government’s priority.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved the 130-km Jeypore-Malkangiri New Line project at a completion cost of Rs 2,676.11 crore, Goyal said.

It is likely to be completed by 2021-22 and will cover the districts of Koraput and Malkangiri in Odisha.

“Connecting Naxal-affected areas is our priority and for this, we are starting the first rail project in Orissa’s Malkangiri. This will help in the development of the area,” the minister told reporters.

Malkangiri and Koraput districts are among the identified left wing extremism (LWE) affected districts in the country. These areas are also amongst the 115 aspirational districts identified by the Prime Minister for development to help achieve the vision of New India by 2022.

The proposed new line will connect Malkangiri, Boipariguda, Tanginiguda, Mathili, Pondripani Road and other major towns to Jeypore station on the existing Kottavalasa-Kirandul line.

Further, connectivity to important towns such as Koraput, Jeypore, Jagdalpur, Dantewara will improve. It will also result in shortening the journey-time to many other places of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

At present, Malkangiri has no connectivity through railways.

“The new line will provide basic infrastructure support for overall development, including industrial development of the area having large socio-economic ramifications,” the railways said.

“This project will provide connectivity in this region, and will help provide economic opportunities to the people of these regions. This will also help in combating left wing extremism through development,” it said.

Goyal also said that the project will generate direct employment during construction of about 31.2 lakh man-days.