Baripada: The Union Government has not been kind to North Odisha in general and Mayurbhanj in particular in the railway budget for the year 2023-24.
Though the Centre has allocated Rs 10,012 crore for Odisha in the railway budget, however Tribal Zone Mayurbhanj District has been given only Rs 1,000 in the budget. This has surprised many.
Since independence, not a single kilometre of new railway line has been laid in the district. Only the Rupsa-Bangiriposhi line has been redeveloped, pointed out a former Lawmaker.
The people of Mayurbhanj have been demanding construction of new railway lines– Chakulia-Budhamara, Badampahar-Keonjhar and Bangriposhi-Gorumahisani, said he.
While Rs 1000 was allocated for Chakulia-Budhamara in 2022-23, provision of Rs 1000 was made for the project in budget 2023-24.
Not only Mayurbhanj district, entire North Odisha, where Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had served for many years as a senior IAS officer, was completely ignored in the Railway Budget, people’s representatives point out.
For four North Odisha districts—Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak and Keonjhar, only three new railway projects are in progress. These projects are—Digha-Jaleswar (41 km), extension of Rupsa-Bangiriposhi from Budhamara to Chakulia (50 km) and Kiriburu-Barbil (24.5 km).
The estimated cost of Digha-Jaleswar new railway line is Rs 663.25 crore, of which only Rs 8.05 crore spent till March 2022 while only Rs 10 crore given in the new budget. The alignment for the project is yet to be finalized. So, the land acquisition was also not completed.
Similarly, the Budhamara to Chakulia project is also in similar condition. Sources said that only Rs 1000 made for the project during 2022-23 and Rs.1000 in 2023-24. The Niti Aayog has yet to approve the project.
Out of the estimated cost of Rs 705.17 crore, only Rs 4.9 crore has been given for the Kiriburu-Barbil new railway line project. Not a single rupee has been spent on this project till March last.
The South Eastern Railway (SER) has started conducting surveys for Keonjhar-Badampahar (80 km), Bangiriposhi-Gorumahishani (62 km) and Nilagiri-Tatanagar (223 km).
Under this backdrop, senior Congress leader Navajyoti Patnaik has reiterated his demand for a Railway Division at Balasore.
Shri Patnaik has said unless a new Railway Division is not opened at Balasore, funding to railway projects in North Odisha will get lukewarm response.
He pointed out that while Mayurbhanj and Balasore Lok Sabha Seats are represented by BJP Lawmakers, Union Government led by BJP is continuously ignoring these areas.
Shri Patnaik has said how the Union Government is not keeping its promises, the voters are to take note of it and decide future course of action.