Odisha seeks Rs 6500 crore in railway sector in Union Budget 2018-19

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday requested Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to allocate Rs 6500 crore for the development of railway sector in the state in Union Budget 2018-19.

In a letter to the Railway Minister, the Chief Minister proposed a railway package of Rs 6500 crore, which will help both Odisha and Indian Railways in furthering their goals of economic and social justice.

“This packages of Rs 6500 crores includes detailed proposals for the ongoing projects, sanctioning new lines, station modernisation, the introduction of new trains, the extension of existing trains, improved passenger amenities at stations, onboard services, the establishment of rail-based industries, modernisation of multimodal logistic parks etc,” said Patnaik.

He said Odisha has progressed rapidly in the past decade and consequently, the state’s GDP growth rate is almost 20% higher than the growth rate of national GDP.

“My State is steadily evolving to be a major industrial and mineral hub as well as the eastern gateway to the nation, owing to the multiple functional ports. Importance of world-class rail infrastructure is a prerequisite for rapid development as well as to aid the growth of the economy,” said Patnaik.

He said Odisha generates an annual revenue for Indian Railways in excess of Rs. 15,000 crores and yet the average route length, with a rail density (16.0) in the state is much less than the national average (20.0), and even considerably lower in comparison to adjoining states (West Bengal: 43.4 and Jharkhand: 24.3).

He said in order to expedite augmentation of the rail infrastructure in the state, Government of Odisha has taken several initiatives such as to form Joint Ventures/Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) jointly with Railway Ministry and other Ministries to undertake new rail lines/corridors, directly financing construction besides offering land free for creation of new railway projects.

Notably, the State Government has also undertaken policy level changes by exempting registration fees and stamp duty on all government land for all railway projects in the state.

In order to take the partnership forward with Indian Railways, Government of Odisha has formed a JV company with Ministry of Railways (Odisha Rail Infrastructure Development Limited) with an authorized capital of Rs.100 crores. Odisha will have a shareholding ratio of 51%.

The state has also contributed majority equity in two ongoing railway projects namely, Angul Sukinda Railway Ltd. and Haridaspur Paradip Railway Company Ltd.