Railway neglect of Sundargarh of Odisha decried

ROURKELA: Ahead of Railway Budget, the Centre’s neglect of Sundargarh district in train services and railway infrastructure has been raised in several quarters.According to sources, despite being a major revenue generator for the South Eastern Railway (SER), the district is deprived of several key projects.

The Railways has been moving ahead with selective projects through Rourkela on the busy Howrah-Mumbai route ignoring key railway development proposals promising economic growth of the region.

According to general secretary of Railway Users’ Association (RUA) AC Baral, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Jharsuguda districts contribute nearly 70 per cent of revenue earned from Chakradharpur division and about 40 per cent of SER. Sundargarh district’s share is apparently the largest among the three districts.

The sources said after establishment of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), it was provisioned to create a railway division at Rourkela. In 1962, the then Chief Minister Biju Patnaik proposed to set up a wagon factory, where steel sheets and plates of RSP would be used. More than 4,000 acres at Bondamunda were given to SER for both the projects.

“Railways has crossed all limits in recent years. Bondamunda houses country’s second largest marshalling yard and the second electric loco shed is also coming up there. But the Centre has ignored other important projects like creation of a Railway Division at Rourkela and setting up the wagon factory. Train passengers are denied of better amenities. Also, the upgradation of the Railway Hospital at Bondamunda is pending,” Sundargarh district working president of BJD and former minister Sarada Prasad Nayak said.

Amid such allegations, the State continues to lack adequate train services.

Fate of Koraput-Rourkela Inter-City Express hangs in balance after being cancelled in July last year. Commuters have been demanding introduction of a new train between Rourkela and Paradip through the congestion-free Chakradharpur-Keonjhar-Jajpur route, besides second Rourkela-Bhubaneswar Inter-City Express and extension of the Puri-Barbil Express till Rourkela. The Centre had earlier rejected the demands for extension of Gorakhpur-Hatia Maurya Express and Ranchi-Delhi Garib Rath Express till Rourkela.

Meanwhile, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram refuted the allegations and said the Railways had been apprised of the demand for new Railway Division at Rourkela. Besides, adequate thrust has been given to development of the railway in Sundargarh, he added.

“The laying of third track and implementation of the proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor through Rourkela will immensely benefit Sundargarh. In the last 42 months, about Rs.682 crore has been allotted for Bimlagarh-Talcher railway line project,” the Minister said.