Odisha-Centre MoU on Khurda Road-Balangir rail project
BHUBANESWAR: The much-awaited Khurda Road-Balangir railway project is expected to get a fresh lease of life as the state government will be signing an MoU with the railway ministry on July 20 for the completion of the project in a time bound manner, official sources said.
The 289-km rail project, to course through some of the backward districts of the state, was sanctioned by the Centre in 1994-95.
The inordinate delay is mainly ascribed to problems over land acquisition. So far, work has been completed only on 32 km (Khurda Road to Begunia) which is scheduled to be inaugurated by Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
The Union minister will also inaugurate station buildings of Begunia and Khurda Town by remote control and flag off the passenger train, railway sources said.
For speedy completion of the project, the state government has offered to provide free land on the Daspalla-Bolangir stretch (112-289 km) for this crucial rail link and agreed to bear 50% of the project cost.
This rail project was sanctioned in 1994-95 at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore. Due to delay, the cost of the project has now gone up to Rs 2,000 crore.
“The cost overrun has been due to a steep rise in input costs like steel and cement.
The Railway Budget for 2015-16 had allocated Rs 195 crore for this project,” said an officer.
The state government has already handed over private land of 1,095.91 acre to the railway authorities. The whole project needs 5,021 acre of land, sources said. “We hope the MoU will help speed up the project,” said transport and commerce minister Ramesh Majhi.
According to sources, the state government is going to propose to the railway ministry to be partners in a number of other railway projects which has been hanging fire for the past several decades.
Other pending railway projects include the Haridaspur-Paradeep special purpose vehicle (SPV) project (82 km, sanctioned in 1995-96), Anugul-Duburi-Sukinda SPV Project (90 km, sanctioned in 1997-98), Talcher-Bimlagarh (154 km, sanctioned in 2004-05) and Jaleswar-Digha (40 km, sanctioned in 2010-11).
To ensure rail connectivity in tribe-dominated districts, the state government has announced it would bear 50% of the construction cost along with free land for the Jeypore-Nabarangpur line and 25% of the construction cost for the Jeypore-Malkangiri line for creating railway infrastructure.