Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kantabanjhi stop demand halts trains

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By SUDEEP KUMAR GURU
  • Published 8.12.10
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Balangir, Dec. 7: An agitation at Kantabanjhi railway station disrupted railway traffic on the Visakhapatnam-Raipur route for over nine hours today.

Kantabanjhi Railway Users’ Association blocked the tracks to press for their longstanding demand of extending the Howrah-Titilagarh superfast Ispat Express to Kantabanjhi.

Hundreds of agitated residents of Kantabanjhi stopped the Kesinga-Raipur passenger train at the railway station and squatted on the track. This led to several other trains getting stranded at various stations on the route.

The Puri-Durg Intercity Express was stranded at the Muribahal station while Visakhapatnam-Raipur Passenger was detained at Turekela station. The Bilaspur bound Raipur-Bilaspur passenger train was also stopped at Khariar Road station.

Normality returned to the route after police arrested nearly 50 demonstrators.

Secretary of Kantabanjhi Railway Users’ Association Anil Kumar Agrawal said: “We have been fighting for this (extension of Ispat Express upto Kantabanjhi) since 2005. However in 2008, the train was extended from Sambalpur to Titilagarh instead of Kantanbanjhi. The railway authorities cited unavailability of track in the station as the Bilaspur-Kantabanjhi passenger was making a night halt at Kantabanjhi. The problem no more exists as the passenger train has been extended upto Raipur.”

Agrawal further said they had been drawing the attention of the railway authorities about the demand in regular intervals. “Last Friday we had been invited to Titilagarh where the district collector and the divisional commercial manager (DCM) of Sambalpur Railway Division informed us that Kantabanjhi had been included in the time table of Ispat Express. In the past also there have been such assurances but nothing had happened. We are looking forward to the railway board meeting in Goa next month. If nothing comes about, we will intensify the agitation”, he said.

DCM, Samabalpur Railway Division, N.M. Patjoshi said: “We have done whatever is possible at our level. We have put Kantabanjhi in the timetable of Ispat Express and intimated it to the railway board. The board will take the final decision.”

“Though Kantabanjhi is an important business hub we have to go to Titilagarh or Balangir to catch trains,” said activist Surath Behera.