Odisha Commerce & Transport Minister criticizes Railways over land acquisition delay

BHUBANESWAR: Commerce and transport minister Nrusingha Charan Sahoo on Tuesday criticized Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain for passing the buck to Odisha government in delay of railway projects in the state.

Nrusingha Sahoo pooh-poohed the allegation made by Gohain at a meeting here on Sunday that railway projects are getting delayed due to Odisha government’s slow progress in land acquisition process. “Gohain’s statement is baseless. Our government is very much cooperative to expedite the ongoing railway projects. We didn’t delay in land acquisition process,” he added.

He said delay in survey work and requisition of land by the railways is major reason of slow progress of different railway projects in the state. “Talcher-Bimalagarh (154 km) new line was sanctioned in 2010, but we received land requisition from railway in 2016. Two new lines- Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur- were sanctioned in 2016-17, but land requisition process has not been started yet,” he added.

The minister also alleged that the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a central government enterprise, takes more time for execution of projects. “Haridaspur-Paradip (82 km) new line is an important project for us. It was sanctioned in 1996-97. This project is yet to be completed. It shows RVNL’s commitment for the project,” he added.

The other ongoing projects including Angul-Sukinda (90 km) new line, Sambalpur-Titlagarh doubling (182 km) and Raipur-Titlagarh doubling (203 km) are getting delayed due to railways, said the minister.

He said chief minister Naveen Patnaik had demanded for three express trains- Bhubaneswar to Delhi via Sambalpur, Khurda Road to Mumbai and Sambalpur to Allahabad via Bolangir. “Most of the trains running in these areas are getting crowded. So we need more trains. But the Centre is not paying heed to our demand,” he added.

The minister said the state government provides land for the railway projects for free of cost. Even it waived the fees of registration and stamp duty on land. “There are 18 projects undergoing in the state. All are important for us. So why we will delay the land acquisition process,” he wondered.