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Wish Rs 3050cr, reality Rs 869cr

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 26: The state has sharply reacted to the railway budget as its demand for adequate allocation has been ignored.

Odisha demanded Rs 3,050 crore, but has got only Rs 869 crore in the budget.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said: “The central government has once again given a step-motherly treatment to the state, especially when it is giving more than Rs 14,000 crore revenue per annum.”

Odisha’s demand to release money for setting up world-class railway stations in Bhubaneswar and Puri has also been overlooked. However, the Centre has given priority for expediting works of some important ongoing railway projects considered vital for the growth of industrialisation such as Daitari-Bansapani, Haridaspur-Paradip and Angul-Duburi-Sukinda Road by enhancing the funds allocation in this year’s budget compared to last year.

The BJD criticised the budget while the Opposition Congress also expressed concern over it as no steps have been taken to connect the tribal districts with the railway network. There has been no railway network in seven of the 30 districts. The state BJP unit also came down heavily as Odisha was not in the priority list of the railway.

Stating that the allocated Rs 869 crore is grossly insufficient considering the requirement of the ongoing projects, Naveen said: “The promise for world-class railway stations for Puri and Bhubaneswar has not been met with monetary sanctions though it was announced in 2010. This is highly unfortunate when the state is gearing up for celebration of Nabakalebara festival in Puri.”

He said the state’s demand for more trains, new lines and increase in frequency of trains have not been met. Odisha has also vented its anger over the fact that only Rs 5 crore each has been sanctioned against the Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh and the Talcher- Bimalagarh projects.

The railway ministry has increased budget allocation for Daitari-Bansapani (from Rs 10 crore to Rs 25.35 crore), Khurda Road-Balangir project (from Rs 23 crore to Rs 60 crore), Haridaspur-Paradip railway (from Rs 2 crore to Rs 72.46 crore) and Angul-Duburi-Sukinda Road project (from Rs 2 crore to Rs 29.82 crore).

The Congress leaders were unhappy with the provisions made for Odisha. “We would have been happier, had better provisions been made for the state. The state needs more new trains and rail projects, especially in the underdeveloped areas of KBK and western Odisha,” said Congress leader Narasingha Mishra. He, however, blamed the state government for failing to present the case of Odisha properly. Congress MP Pradeep Majhi said railway should have considered districts where there is no railway network.

BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said: “Specific priority has not been given in the rail budget to correct the continued neglect of the state in the expansion of railway network.” On the other hand, BJD MP Baijayant Panda said: “The budget is politically motivated.”

A CPI leader said the Centre had again deceived Odisha. “The backward state has been offered lollypops in the rail budget,” said CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayak.

President of the All India University Employees Confederation Bhabani Hota said the backward areas of the state had been ignored.

Activists of the Odisha Jan Morcha, outfit floated by rebel BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra today staged a demonstration at Rourkela station, alleging that no new train was provided to the steel city.