After a seemingly interminable wait stretching decades, a train will finally chug off on the 32-km long completed stretch between Khurda to Begunia on the incomplete 289-km Khurda-Balangir rail route, which would link coastal Odisha with the western region.
The train will be flagged off from Begunia on its maiden journey to Khurda at 4.30 PM in the presence of Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, informed S K Singh, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Khurda Division of the ECoR.
The DRM also informed that ECoR will be running 200 special trains to Puri for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra.
“At 4.30 pm tomorrow, there will be a function where the train will be flagged off. In view of the extra rush during the Nabakalebara, we will be running more than 200 special trains. Apart from these trains, we shall take passengers to Puri through coach augmentation of existing trains to the extent possible. We have set up a tourist complex to provide temporary accommodation to 5,000 visitors. This facility has bathroom and toilet facilities for people visiting Puri during the festival. The entire area from platforms etc has been put under CCTV surveillance to prevent any untoward incident,” Singh told reporters.
During the function, the state government will place its demand for early completion of the project before the Railways Minister.
The state government has emphasized the early completion of the 22-year old project. It has been targeted to complete the project within six years.
The state government will be inking an agreement in this regard with the Railways Ministry on July 20. It has agreed to provide Rs 1,355 crore for the project out of which Rs 355 crore will be towards land acquisition cost. The Centre will provide the rest Rs 1,000 crore for the project as its share.
“The state government will put forth its demands before the Railways Minister for early completion of old and pending projects of the railways in the state. This apart, we will also demand extension of railways to districts like Deogarh and Kendrapara which have no presence in the railway map now. These demands will be placed before the Railways Minister,” said Ramesh Majhi Commerce and Transport Minister.
Out of 30 districts in the state, seven have no rail connectivity.
Notably, out of the 289 km Khurda-Balangir route, work has been completed only on the 32-km stretch from Khurda to Begunia while work on the 112-km stretch from Begunia to Daspalla is on.
The July 20 agreement between the state government and the Railways Ministry will be for the remaining 177-km long stretch between Daspalla to Balangir.
The project has been estimated at Rs.2000 crore while an additional Rs.355 crore will be spent towards land acquisition.
The agreement will have a condition that the Odisha government will complete the land acquisition process within two and half years. It has been planned to start the project from the Balangir end.