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Biraja Mahapatra
Khurdha-Bolangir Railway Project, with 121 years saga of neglect, requires urgent attention for its completion
PetitionPosted By: hindtodaynews on:12/20/2012 8:48:22 PM

The Council of States (Rajya Sabha)

Parliament of India,

 Petition of

 Biraja Mahapatra

Advocate

President- Build India Group

Delhi - 110092

 

(Khurdha-Bolangir Railway Project, with 121 years saga of neglect, requires urgent attention for its completion )

 

Respectfully showeth:

 1.   That the present petition is being preferred to bring to the notice of the Hon’ble Members of the Parliament the saga of a Railway line mooted way back in 1891 between Sambalpur in Western part and Khurda Road in Eastern Part of Odisha and the project is still virtually lying in limbo. Surveyed way back in 1891, the 114-mile Railway line connecting Sambalpur and Khurda via Sonepur was proposed for construction at a cost of Rs 1.19 lakh per mile and the total cost of the project was estimated at Rs 2.27 crore.  But the Bengal Nagpur Railways company could not proceed with this project due to dearth of funds.

2.     It is very pertinent to mention here that another important rail project between Sambalpur and Cuttack  was planned in 1885 connecting eastern part and western part of Odisha,  for which foundation stone was laid by the then Congress General Secretary Rajeev Gandhi in 1985 and the train started running in 1998.   Precisely the train stared running 113 years after it was mooted. Now over 121 years have passed ever since the Khurda-Bolangir (earlier known Sambalpur-via-Sonepur near Bolangir- Khurda) railway line was mooted. Construction for the present project started 17 years ago and the rail line has been constructed upto 16 kilometers averaging less than a kilometer per year. If this is the pace in which the construction continues it is well imaginable as to how many more years will it take for completion of another 273 kilometers of this project. Railway Board takes it as social project and keeps it in low priority on the ground that it is not a commercially viable project notwithstanding the fact that the Railways gets at least Rs 6000/- crore revenue from the state per annum. The petitioner intends to demonstrate that it is going to be highly profit making and also life line for the people of this state and deserves to be a national project.

 RAILWAYS IN ODISHA- AN OVERVIEW ;-

 Prior to independence, between 1900 and 1942, Odisha had a rail track of 1300 kilometers.  Between 1942 and this year, the total railway line constructed is less than 1000 kilometers. While the Railways collect Rs 6000 crore revenue from Odisha every year, it spends only two per cent of revenue in Rail network in Odisha. Odisha averages 14 kilometers network in every 1000 sq kilometers against the national average of 19 kilometers per 1000 sq kilometers. West Bengal tops this average at 43 kilometers followed by Bihar with 30 kilometers. Clearly, the coal rich Odisha state has never got attention of the Railway authorities and announcements with regard to various rail projects are just eyewash to only befool the people of Odisha. Khurada-Bolangir Railway line, for which foundation stone has been laid 14 times on different occasions, is probably the single example of delay and apathy in the history of Railway in the country.  

 THE BACKGROUND OF KHURDA-BOLANGIR RAIL LINE:

 For the purpose of providing a brief background to the project, the petitioner intends to quote a relevant portion from Chapter 17 under heading “Sambalpur-Khurda Connection” in a book titled “The Blue Chip Railway” by former senior Railway official R R Bhandari. The relevant portion reads as under:

 “Survey for a line from Sambalpur to Khurda near Cuttack was first made in 1891-92, proposing a rail link running parallel to the Great Eastern Highway. The object of this survey was to ascertain the cost of connecting Sambalpur with East Coast Railway by a line running south of Mahanadi. Prior to it, a survey was made in 1885 for connecting Sambalpur with Cuttack by a route north of Mahanadi. The survey of 1891-92 was completed in October 1892. It brought out that the line located would not involve very heavy works save for a bridge over Mahanadi and tunnel of about 1400 feet length. It was estimated that the whole line of about 190 mile length would cost about Rs 2.27 crore or Rs 1.19 lakh per mile.

 “The Administrative Report of 1893-94 closes the chapter with the following remarks:

 “Construction of Sambalpur-Khurda line has been postponed for want of funds”.

 This book, which has been published by CPRO, South Eastern Railway in 1998, further reads that during 1898-99, while a survey was being made for Raipur-Vizianagaram line, survey for a branch line from Sointala (Now Titlagarh in Bolangir District) to Sonpur was also made in order to effect a junction with the suggested railway from Sambalpur via Sonpur to Khurda Road on the East Coast State Railway. Since the construction of Raipur-Vijianagaram main line was deferred, the extension from Sambalpur was deferred.

 The Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) authorities had felt the importance of this rail link to the tribal-dominated and under-developed undivided districts of BalangirKalahandi, Koraput and Phulbani and accordingly a commercial survey for the Khurda Road-Balangir railway line was started in 1945.

 As per the Railway Board (RB) letter no.R/45C/81, dated 12.6.1945, the initial survey was completed after seven years and  Rs`4.98 crore was planned for the primary constructions.

 However, the project could not start during 1945-46 due to its commercial viability. As per the survey report, its income was only 0.28 per cent per annum against the Indian Railway’s annual income.

 The RB further appointed the Nagpur Railway and RITES to make a primary commercial survey of the Khurda Road-Bolangir project for a long period and as per the letter No. 84/W4/CNL/SE/6 dtd 21.6.1984 referred to the RB, `208.80 crore was planned for it.

 It was again found out that the project would yield only one per cent income per annum which was also deemed not viable and the project could not start its work.

 Again the RB directed the RITES to make a survey and as per the letter no 84/w4/CNL/SE/6 dtd 18.12.1990, Rs 286.97 crore was planned for the primary expenditure of the project and 8.44 per cent of income per annum.

 The proposal was sent to the RB for final approval (vide letter no.AES/Khurda, Bolangir M/15 dtd 8.2.91) while the RB again acknowledged it as not commercially-viable and the project could not start.

 The then Planning Commission Deputy Chairman reviewed all the survey reports in 1993 and directed for a fresh survey report.

 Again a primary survey started as per the RB’s instruction (vide letter no. 84/W4/CNL/SE/8 dtd 6.9.93).

 According to the latest survey report, the Khurda Road-Bolangir railway line covers only 289 km of the districts of Khurda, Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Bolangir. A 660-mtr-long big bridge over the Tel river and 11 tunnels to be constructed. The total length of the tunnels is 6.30 km while around 435 bridges, 32 big ones, need to be constructed. The project cost was estimated at Rs 700 crore.

 Besides, the project covers 225 villages, 2,442 hectares of land required for acquisition, 124 level crossings, 17 railway stations, two junctions and 15 crossing stations to be constructed. Another 11 small stations to be opened after the railway track work is over between Khurda Road and Bolangir. It is submitted that the land acquisition for this project has already been completed for phase 1.

 ECONOMIC VIABILITY

As per the 1993 survey report,  while Rs`102 crore of income is estimated to be generated from the passengers, `160 crore is pegged at from the freights as it could transport around 4.5 million tons of graphite, granite and other materials from western Odisha per year. What is clearly overlooked is that it could be the shortest connecting line between Damanjodi in Koraput (where bauxite is prospected) and NALCO and apparently this will be single most reason why this rail link is so important. Odisha is struggling with Maoist activity. The western part of Orissa with high tribal populace deserves a special attention so that it will connect eastern and western Odisha culturally and boost the economic activities in the state.

 The highlight of this project is that it will be the main freight corridor for Nalco and reduce the distance between Damanjodi in Koraput to NALCO in Angul by about 200 kilometers. It is the main communication line between the Eastern-part and western part of the state and is as important as the Sambalpur-Talcher Railway line. Besides, alumina, it will also be used as a freight corridor for about 4.5 million tonnes of graphite, granite and other materials. Once it is connected to Bolangir, it will connect the existing Rail network connecting Koraput, Kesinga and Bargarh and it will be a major life line for people of tribal populated Western Odisha in general and a highly profit making project for the railways. This tract now requires urgent attention, as the line connects to the Kalahandi-Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) Region, helps deal with developmental activities in Maoists affected areas and ensure impetus to the economic activities in the state.

 A strong wave of resentment is brewing against the Center’s allegedly apathetic attitude towards the State in the development of the railways here.

 While Rs `20 crore was allotted for Khurda Road-Balangir rail project for fiscal 2007-08, the expenses made was only Rs `6.34 crore, `Rs 32 .40 crore was allotted in 2008-09 and expenditure was Rs 3.50 crore, `Rs 28.07 crore in 2009-10 and expenditure was `Rs 19.36 crore only. Rs 120 crore was allocated in 2011 and Rs 60 crore in the last budget. Most amounts of the allocated funds for the project come back.

 For the last few years, resentment is gradually brewing and it may take a shape of movement because the just demand of the people of Odisha is not only a state project, it justifies to be a national project keeping in view the possibility of industrialization and  high economic activities changing the economic conditions of poverty-struck mineral rich state.

                                       Prayer

Keeping in view the aforesaid background, it is respectfully prayed that the Hon’ble Council of States (Rajya Sabha) may be pleased to direct the appropriate authorities for completion of this project at the earliest possible time.

 

Biraja Mahapatra

Advocate

President- Build India Group

(A Civil Society which believes in cultivating

Good citizenry for a healthy country)

                                                                             Delhi - 110092

 


  • Comments By: gopal ray   
    Yes / I endorse/ I agree  Post Date:5/11/2017 7:14:58 AM
 
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