Odisha Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu on Sunday wrote to Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw requesting him to sanction a new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur.
In a letter to the Union Minister, Sahu said, “I have received a memorandum from the people of Padampur submitted to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, requesting to sanction the important new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada. via Padampur.”
Referring to an announcement made by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a public meeting Sahu stated that “On December 14, 2018 Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a public meeting announced that Central Government has sanctioned the project and same was also highlighted by the cabinet minister in his social media account.”
He said that since the year 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Odisha government have been requesting the Ministry of Railways to sanction the railway line. Sahu said the project has a Rate of Return (ROR) of 17.31 per cent as per study undertaken by East Coast Railway and the fact was communicated to the Ministry of Railways in January 2019.
“This railway project can offer an important communication link to the people of the two districts of Odisha and act as a potential catalyst for the rapid economic development of Westem Odisha. With this new line, the Western Odisha region will get shorter and quicker connectivity with the Coastal Odisha through the Khurda — Balangir line,” said the Odisha Minister.
However, contrary to the above announcement by Union Minister Pradhan, Sahu said the Ministry of Railways in 2019 communicated that the proposed new line has been shelved as it did not appear to be “financially viable, despite the high ROR, which is much beyond the requirement for approving a new line.”
Giving reference to the letter written by the Railway Board on October 10, 2019, Sahu said Railway Board asked the state government to contribute free land and RR cost for land acquisition for considering the project. And on this request, he said Chief Minister Patnaik approved not only free land for the entire project (private, government and forest land) but also pledged Rs 300 crore towards the construction of the project so that it becomes even more lucrative for Indian Railways to sanction the project.
“Despite Odisha government coming forward to offer with all cooperation, the important project is still waiting to advance from paperwork and surveys through other agencies,” he said.
The Odisha minister said that the Ministry of Railways has suggested that state-led JV, ORIDL, undertake the surveys. Given the immense benefit the new line will offer, he said the Indian Railways need to come forward, allocate funds and start the work immediately.
“Therefore, in the interest of the people of Odisha, I would request you to reconsider the decision of your ministry and sanction this very important railway line and entrust East-Coast Railways to begin the land acquisition process and start construction work expeditiously.
Odisha government has always prioritised infrastructure development in Western and Southern Odisha and built Biju Expressway for accelerated economic development in the region, We request you to come forward and invest in this important railway line and be a partner in the socio-economic development of Padampur and adjoining region,” urged Sahu. (ANI)