Balangir (BLGR): The successful trial run of trains in a stretch of 32-km on Khurda Road-Balangir line on August 31 last year had raised hopes of completion of the project soon. But, the project continues to hang fire with land acquisition posing as a major hurdle.
The railway line which will pass through Khurda, Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Balangir districts would require construction of 11 tunnels measuring 6.3 km, around 435 bridges including a 660-metre bridge over river Tel besides culverts and other constructions.
Though the State Government had assured the Centre of providing the land free of cost, the acquisition process for the 289-km rail line has hit a road block.
As yet, only land for laying train tracks on 22 kms has been acquired in Balangir district while not a single inch of land has been acquired in Boudh district which has a lion’s share of 122 kms. However, in neighbouring Nayagarh district, land has been acquired from Raj Sunakhala to Nayagarh.
After connecting Khurda Road with Begunia in the first phase, work on the 46-km stretch to Raj Sunakhala was to be completed by March 31 this year and the 66-km stretch till Nayagarh has 2015-16 financial year deadline. But meeting the deadline now seems to be remote considering the slow pace of work.
As per official reports, the budget of the project which was estimated at `4.98 crore after the initial survey has shot up to a staggering `2,000 crore as it witnessed low budgetary provisions in Central Budgets and issues of land acquisition.
The rail link was first surveyed in 1945 by the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) administration which found the route important as it connected most backward undivided districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Koraput and Phulbani with Bhubaneswar. Smaller towns such as Daspalla, Banigochha, Manipur and Boudh were also part of the line.