Ongoing 447 km Jharsuguda-Kharagpur mega 3rd Rail Line project come to a halt in Rourkela amid protests by encroachers

ROURKELA: The ongoing mega third railway line project of South Eastern Railway (SER) is moving expeditiously in Jharkhand and Bengal, but has come to a halt in Rourkela amid protests by encroachers.

SER sources said the 447 km railway line between Jharsuguda and Kharagpur will be laid under the project that has five packages. Chakradharpur-based divisional spokesperson Bhaskar said the Railway’s Construction department and Rail Vikash Nigam Limited are executing the project. He said earthwork is underway on the 165 km stretch between Kharagpur and Adityapur in Jharkhand and it has been targeted to complete the project by 2022.

Bhaskar said work has not started between Rajkharsawan and Chakradharpur stations and Chakradhar and Sonua stations, while it has been completed between Sonua, Malika and Jareikela stations. He further informed that land and some other issues have stalled the project in Rourkela and nearby areas but earthwork has started between Jharsuguda and Jareikela.

Kolkata-based chief spokesperson of SER Sanjay Ghosh said work on 38 km stretch on third track between Adityapur and Rajkharsawan in Jharkhand has been completed. The project is moving well in the remaining stretches except for Rourkela, he added. Sources said slum dwellers on railway land along Howrah-Mumbai route from Malgodam to Panposh have stalled eviction efforts of the administration and SER.

After fresh protests in May this year, Sundargarh district administration intervened and taking a humanitarian view, asked the SER to help rehabilitate those affected. Sundargarh Collector Surendra Kumar Meena told that in view of SER’s huge land bank, the administration impressed upon it to provide 20 acres so that the slum dwellers could be rehabilitated through affordable housing scheme. He said the Central housing scheme for all has a clause in which land of Central or State governments could be used for the purpose, adding that if SER agrees, then eviction would be taken up in a phased manner.

According to SER, as of now, 766 households between Malgodam and Panposh have been earmarked for eviction to clear 25-metre stretch from Rourkela to Birmitrapur on the northern side. The SER also wants clearance of encroachment alongside the Up track on the southern side for future project, which would affect 801 households.