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Plea For P’Pur Rail

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the crucial Padampur by-poll, State Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu has urged Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to sanction a new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur.

The people of Padampur have submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for approval of an important new railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur.

In her letter, Shrimati Sahu mentioned the announcement made by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a public meeting on December 15, 2018 that the Central Government has sanctioned a new railway line project from Bargarh Station to Nuapada Road Station. Pradhan had also highlighted it in his social media account.

“Since the year 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and our Government have been requesting the Ministry of Railways to sanction the important railway line between Bargarh and Nuapada, via Padampur,” shrimati Sahu said.

The project has a Rate of Return (RoR) of 17.31% as per study undertaken by East Coast Railway and communicated to the Ministry of Railways vide letter Dated January 11,2019, she mentioned.

The Transport Minister also stated that the new railway project can offer an important communication link to the people of the two districts of Odisha and act as a potential catalyst for rapid economic development of western Odisha.

With this new line, the Western Odisha region will get a shorter and quicker connectivity with Coastal Odisha through the Khurda – Balangir line, she said.

However, Shrimati Sahu said, contrary to the announcement made by Pradhan, the Ministry of Railways in 2019 communicated that the proposed new line has been shelved as it didn’t appear to be financially viable, despite the high RoR, which is much beyond the requirement for approving a new line.

Further, the Railway Board has asked the State Government to contribute free land and RR cost for land acquisition for considering the project. And on this request, the Chief Minister had approved not only free land for the entire project (private, Government and forest land) but also pledged Rs 300 crore towards 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 paper work and surveys through other agencies,” she wrote.

It may be noted that the Ministry of Railways has suggested that State led Joint Venture, ORIDL, to undertake the surveys. Given the immense benefit the new line will offer, the Minister urged Indian Railways to come forward, allocate funds and start the work immediately.

“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,” Sahu told the Railways Minister.

Odisha Government has always prioritised infrastructure development in the Western and Southern Odisha and built Biju Expressway for accelerated economic development in the region, she said, urging Shri Vaishnaw to come forward and invest in this important railway line and be a partner in the socio-economic development of Padampur and adjoining region.