New JVs to push rail connectivity in Odisha; says Ramesh Majhi

Bhubaneswar (BBS): The railway ministry is planning more special purpose vehicles (SPVs) or joint ventures (JVs) to augment rail connectivity and expedite implementation of pending railway projects in Odisha, said commerce and transport minister Ramesh Majhi.

He was recently in New Delhi to attend signing of the tripartite pact on a SPV for evacuation of coal from Talcher coalfields.

“I discussed railway projects for Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts with Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu. He assured that these projects will be taken up through SPVs,” Majhi said.

To boost rail connectivity in Maoist-hit Malkangiri and Nabarangpur, the state government had proposed Jeypore-Nabarangpur and Jeypore-Malkangiri railway projects. Besides providing land for free, it had announced to bear 50% and 25% construction cost of Jeypore-Nabarangpur and Jeypore-Malkangiri lines respectively.

Majhi said he demanded rail connectivity to all 30 districts in the state.

On January 8, the state government accepted the Centre’s proposal to partner in railway projects for expeditious implementation. The SPV, where both the ministry and the state government will have equity participation of 49% and 51% respectively, is a step in that direction.

The SPV will conduct techno-economic survey to assess the requirement of railway infrastructure in unconnected backward regions, besides that of industries, ports and mining areas. Industries, ports, business houses and infrastructure companies can also be part of the SPV, official sources said.

Due to fund shortage and other hurdles, a number of railway projects in the state are hanging fire. These include Khurda-Balangir railway project (289 km, sanctioned in 1994-95), Haridaspur-Paradip rail line (82 km, sanctioned in 1995-96), Angul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV project (90 km, sanctioned in 1997-98), Talcher-Bimlagarh (154 km, sanctioned in 2004-05) and Jaleswar-Digha rail line (40 km, sanctioned in 2010-11).

For 2015-16, the state got Rs 2,514 crore against its demand of Rs 3,200 crore for construction of new lines, gauge conversion, doubling, boosting passenger amenities, improving traffic facilities, safety and electrification.