Odisha seeks sizable fund in coming Railway Budget 2016-17

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday urged Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to allocate a sizable amount of the Railway Budget 2016-17 for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure in the state.

In a letter to the Railway Minister, the chief minister said the railway route length and rail density in Odisha are very much below national average as also substantially lower than that in neighbouring states.

“In contrast, gross earnings from various stations in the state of Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs.14,000 crore during the year 2014-15. I would request you to kindly ensure allocation of a sizeable part of this year’s Railway Budget allocation for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure,” said the Patnaik.

Informing that Odisha continues to be one of the most preferred destinations for investment especially in metal, mining and power sectors, he said the state government is leveraging this opportunity to plan for orderly, systematic and comprehensive economic growth by focusing on infrastructure development and creating dedicated industrial corridors.

“The nature of industrial activities in the State requires a robust and well-planned railway infrastructure for its sustainability,” he added.

He said the government would extend all help to Railway Ministry for implementation of railway projects in the state.

He said Odisha Government has already signed the Odisha state specific umbrella MoU with Railway Ministry for setting up a JV company for taking up new rail projects in the state with cost sharing of 51% by the state government and 49% by Indian Railways.

Though the MoU has been signed over three months back, the formation of the company is awaiting cabinet clearance of central government on the signing of the agreement between Odisha government and Indian Railways,” he said.

He also requested to expedite the signing of the agreement so that the new projects in the state then can be taken up through the defined route envisaged in the MoU.

He said the other MoU that was signed between Coal India, Indian Railway and Odisha government for creating rail infrastructure to evacuate coal deposits of the state has been operationalised by forming an SPV company and the same had started its work to create the rail corridors in the coal bearing areas of Talcher.

Informing that the state has attracted 8,85,000 crores in diverse sectors and a comprehensive plan has been prepared for developing deepwater seaports along Odisha coast, he said it is expected that the growth in rail-borne traffic will be over 450 mmtpa in the next five years, and pressure on existing infrastructure facilities shall be enormous.

He urged to extend the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Dankuni to Berhampur to ensure seamless movement of cargo between the upcoming ports on the Odisha coast including the major port at Paradip.