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Railways run over CM’s neglect cry

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 24: Railway authorities have taken the Naveen Patnaik government’s neglect cry by its horns. The railways have marshalled facts to show that most of the ministry’s ongoing projects in the state have been delayed owing to inaction of the state authorities.

The move comes in the wake of the state government crying hoarse over the railways’ neglect of Orissa.

East Coast Railway authorities have submitted a report to the state government on the progress of various railway projects and explaining the causes for delay.

The report says while budgetary allocation for the railways to the state has gone up by 10 times in the last decade, most of the ongoing projects have been stuck because of the land acquisition problems.

Interestingly, for the Khurda-Balangir new broad gauge line project, the process of separating the government land has been hampered because of the demand of premium for it by the concerned tehsildars. This, when the state government had exempted it.

Between the 32km and the 112km marks of the line, 1,020 acres are required and out of this, 802 acres have been handed over by the state government.

However, processing of papers for the land acquisition from the 80km to the 112km mark is held up for verification. This patch of land is crucial for the project.

“Instead of blaming the railway authorities, the state government should initiate the process to expedite land acquisition and hand over the land,” said a railway official.

The BJD has been criticising the Centre for its inaction on the railway front.

Residents of the areas, where projects are slated for execution, have been agitating over the issue demanding work be expedited.

On the Haridaspur-Paradip broad gauge line, the progress of land acquisition has been hampered by the demand for higher compensation against acquired land by the local people. Interestingly, payment of ex gratia to the landlosers has already been made by Haridaspur- Paradip Rail Corporation Limited.

On the Talcher-Bimalagarh new broad gauge line, a total of 68.56 acres of government land and 58.865 acres of forestland is yet to be demarkated by the state government in favour of railways.

The Angul-Sukinda new broad gauge line has also not been taken up because of the state government’s non-cooperation. The project would involve 69 villages, but formalities have been completed only for 38 villages. Preliminary estimates regarding the remaining 31 villages are pending with the commerce and transport department for sanction.

With regard to the Rajaathagarh-Barang doubling project, the East Coast Railway authorities, in their report to the state government, have stated that 11 acres were required. The total private land required for the project has been acquired and the alienation proposal is under process by the district administration.

In the Jharsuguda-Rengal doubling rail project, 119 acres are involved. Land measuring 14.570 acres in two villages is to be handed over to railways by the state government.

The acquisition of another 4.310 acres is pending with the state government’s transport and commerce department.

Similarly, the Lanjigarh-Junagarh new broad gauge line work has been stalled because of non-acquisition of land. With the possession of 2.8km forestland yet to be reported by the divisional forest officer, Bhawanipatna, the construction has been held up.

The East Coast Railway’s plan to set up a world-class railway station is also under a cloud.

“There is no requisition from the railways to acquire land for rail wagon factory and platform,” said transport and commercial minister Sanjeev Shau.

The budget allocation for the development of railways in Orissa has jumped from Rs 178.66 crore in 2001-01 to Rs 1,361.67 crore now.

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