North Odisha seeks merger of rail sections’ falling on the ECOR and SER

BALASORE: Neglected by successive governments, the northern parts of the Odisha, ranked as one of the high revenue generating regions in terms of freight traffic, pins hope on getting a lion’s share in the  Railway Budget 2018 to be presented on February 1.

As the budget this time is expected to be crucial in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the citizens here have high expectations from the railway budget.

While the merger of Laxmannath-Ranital and Rupsa-Bangriposhi sections with  East Coast Railway (ECoR) is a long standing demand, Balasore railway station still lacks basic infrastructure and amenities even 25 years after it was declared as a model station.

People alleged there has been no significant development in Ranital-Laxmannath and Rupsa-Bangriposhi sections besides Balasore and Baripada stations since long as they fall within the jurisdiction of South Eastern Railway (SER) headquartered at Kolkata. Senior Citizens’ Forum president Baidyanath Sarangi said while most of the State’s railway network is under ECoR, the SER’s share is only 100 km of railways in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts.

“Even as Balasore alone generates revenue of more than Rs.80 crore annually, the authorities hardly pay any heed to the development of the section despite repeated requests. We are surprised as to why this portion has been left to SER even after formation of ECoR division,” he said.

Sarangi said though a proposal for making Balasore a separate railway division was mooted in 1987, it is yet to be materialised. Declared as a model station in 1993, he said Balasore railway station needs to be revamped with better facilities.

“Though a multi-functional complex, an Out Patient Department (OPD) and diagnostic centre at Balasore were announced in the 2010 budget, no work has been started so far,” the forum president pointed out. This apart, people also have demanded conversion of narrow gauge Balasore-Nilagiri railway line to broad gauge and an Express train to Mumbai via Balasore besides the extension of Rupsa-Bangriposhi railway line up to Tata Nagar and construction of Digha-Jaleswar, Bangriposhi-Gorumohisani and Keonjhar-Badampahar railway lines.

“If Keonjhar-Badampahar line is constructed and Rupsa-Bangriposhi railway line is extended up to Tata Nagar, both the SER and ECoR will be connected and the Chennai-Howrah railway line can be linked with Tata by reducing the distance by  at least 100 km,”  North Odisha Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Devashish Mahanti said.

Sources said of nearly 2,500 km of railway line in the State, Balasore has around 108 km followed by Mayurbhanj 112 km, Jajpur 131 km, Keonjhar 165 km and Bhadrak 97 km, including 62 km of private railway of Dhamra port.

Rupsa-Bangriposhi extension sought

  • As the budget this time is expected to be crucial in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the citizens here have high expectations from the railway budget.
  • Senior Citizens’ Forum president Baidyanath Sarangi said while most of the State’s railway network is under ECoR, the SER’s share is only 100 km of railways in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts.
  • People have demanded conversion of narrow gauge Balasore-Nilagiri railway line to broad gauge and an Express train to Mumbai via Balasore besides the extension of Rupsa-Bangriposhi railway line up to Tata Nagar
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