Railway Board seeks Odisha’s opinion on splitting ECoR

Bhubaneswar (BBS): There is every possibility of the bifurcation of East Coast Railway (EcoR) as the Centre has initiated efforts for formation of a new Waltair Division by withdrawing the Waltair (Vishakhapatnam) division from the ECoR jurisdiction.

The matter has gone to such an  extent that the Railway Board authorities have sought opinions from Odisha MPs in this regard.

Besides, the Board, in a letter to the chief secretary, has wanted to know the stand of the Odisha government in this regard, reliable sources said.

The sources have also said that the state government, in a letter to the Railway Board on April 18 this year, has reiterated its demand to allocate three new divisions if the Board decides to exclude Waltair division from ECoR jurisdiction.

Besides, MPs from the state have also replied in the same manner to the Board, said BJD MP Balabhadra Majhi.

It may be mentioned that with the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh, the Railway Board has formed a committee to conduct a ground study on possible reorganisation of the railway.

The Committee has proposed bifurcation of ECoR by excluding the Waltair division from its jurisdiction and creation of a new division in Seemandhra (the residual Andhra Pradesh).

All political leaders of Andhra, including Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, and several organisations have put pressure on the Centre alleging that justice is not meted out to Waltair division, which is presently under ECoR.

Available information said a blueprint for ECoR bifurcation has already been prepared.

The decision of the Railway Board has come as a rude shock to Odisha.

It may be mentioned that the Waltair division, which was brought under ECoR jurisdiction in 2003, has over 30 railway stations in Odisha including Koraput and Rayagada. Besides, a number of industrial units also come under this division.

Out of a total of 1106 km of rail route under Waltair division, 37 percent (410 km) of rail route passes through Koraput and Rayagada.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, in a letter to the Railway Board last month, had demanded creation of three new divisions for ECoR if it takes away Waltair division from it.

He said the three new divisions should come up either at Rourkela or Jharsuguda, Jajpur-Keonjhar or Bhadrak and Rayagada for empowerment of ECoR.

He had said the proposed Rourkela or Jharsuguda division should comprise of Jareikela-Rourkela-Jharsuguda-Belpahar, Rourkela-Bandhamunda-Barsuan and Rourkela-Nuagan sections; Jajpur-Keonjhar or Bhadrak division should comprise of Jaleswar-Baleswar-Bhadrak-Jhakhapura, Jhakhapura-Bansapani-Padapahara-Gua-Barbil and Rupsa-Bangiposi sections while the Rayagada division should comprise of Nuapada-Gunupur (including the proposed Therubali-Rayagada scetion), Rayagada-Titlagarh-Khariar Road, Koraput-Jeypore-Jagdalpur, Lanjigarh-Junagarh, including the proposed rail routes in Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts.

It remains to be seen whether the Railway Board would take away Waltair division from ECoR and give emphasis on the parallel demand of Odisha