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Odisha CM sends rail missive to Singh

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 24: Odisha Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today shot off a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh urging for a time-bound infrastructure upgrade and expansion plan for the development of railway network in the state that is witnessing rapid industrial growth.

In his letter, Naveen urged Singh to ensure allocation of a sizeable chunk of the revenue generated from Odisha within the state itself for strengthening and expanding railway infrastructure. The proposals included new lines, doubling, electrification, gauge conversion of railway lines, passenger amenities and introduction of new trains.

Demanding an allocation of Rs 3,160 crore to the state in the upcoming railway budget for 2014-15 to take up various new projects and strengthening railway infrastructure, Naveen said: “Steps should also be taken to expedite the execution of a world class station at Bhubaneswar and pilgrim town Puri.”

He also said that the state was ready to share the cost of construction of an ultramodern station building at Bhubaneswar.

Citing the need for a time-bound infrastructure upgrade arrangement for the ports coming up on Odisha coast, Naveen said a synchronised development and railway connectivity was a necessity for maximising economic gains.

“In this context, the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni should be extended to Berhampur so as to ensure seamless movement of freight between the ports and the vast northern and central hinterlands of the country,” Naveen said.

Stating that a large part of backward regions remained untouched by the railways, the chief minister said railway services in the Naxal-affected regions was one of the best means to channelise development in the region.

“The construction of Bhadrachalam Road-Talcher rail link via Malkangiri, Jeypore, Lanjigarh, Sambalpur- Brahmapur new rail link via Phulbani and Raygada-Gopalpur rail link via Bhismagiri assumes importance. These projects should be treated as National Projects,” he said.

The chief minister also hinted that the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack region, which is planned as a mega urban complex, also needed to have a rail-based urban transport system.

The state also demanded that railways should come up to develop a dedicated rail corridor in the Angul-Talcher and Basundhara coal belt in Jharsuguda and Bansapani-Nayagarh iron ore region.

“Railways may consider for setting up of Special Purpose Vehicle for these rail corridors,” Naveen said in his letter to Singh.