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World-class hurdles for station

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 25: The proposed world-class railway station project in Bhubaneswar hangs in balance with the Centre yet to approve the financial modalities worked out for the venture by East Coast Railway in September.

Given the constraints, while there is a fair chance of the station’s up-gradation, its conversion into a world class facility may not be easy.

Odisha, which has been crying hoarse over the Centre’s alleged apathetic attitude towards it, particularly in the railway sector, has urged the Centre to take up this issue prior to the next railway budget.

Initially, the world-class station had been planned for Bhubaneswar in 2009. But no action has been taken till now. Seven lakh passengers depend on the railway station every month and nearly 120 trains pass through it everyday.

Chief minister Naveen Patanik has written to railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal demanding that the financial modalities be chalked out to take up infrastructure development for upgrading the existing facilities at the station. The state government has evinced keen interest in financial participation.

“The state government is willing for financial participation on a cost-sharing basis for infrastructure development of the Bhubaneswar railway station area, keeping in view the larger interest of the railway users of Bhubaneswar. The modalities can be worked out between the railway board and state government officials,” said Naveen.

East Coast Railway has drawn up a comprehensive plan with an estimated cost of Rs 205 crore for construction of two additional platforms, a new station building with world class facilities, proper circulating area and a multilevel parking facility, said sources.

The plan includes a multi-level parking space to accommodate 4,000 two-wheelers and 900 cars, a new station building, two additional platforms and a flyover on the Master Canteen roundabout. There would be five second-class air-conditioned waiting halls with a capacity of 200 passengers each. It will also have a number of multi-cuisine food kiosks, bookshops and medicine shops. The station would also have four upper class waiting halls, each of which would accommodate 150 passengers, two executive lounges and a VIP lounge. A satellite passenger terminal for new Bhubaneswar city is also being planned.

The existing infrastructure at Bhubaneswar station with just four passenger platforms is grossly inadequate. Two more platforms have already been sanctioned, but work on those is yet to begin.

Officials said at least four more platforms were required to effectively deal with the traffic. Since the railway station is in the heart of the city, areas around the railway station often witness traffic chaos. The main entrance, which opens to Master Canteen, is overcrowded because the other entrance on Station Road do not have adequate space for expansion work.

Sources in the state transport department said that apart from the financial part, land acquisition would be a hurdle to the of a world-class railway station project.

“Steps can be taken to improve the existing facilities at the railway station. But it’s difficult to transform it into a world-class station. It will also be huge burden for the railways to pay compensation to people who would be displaced by the project,” an official said.