Bhubaneswar: Opposing bifurcation of the Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR), the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Saturday staged protest near ECoR office here at Chandrasekharpur.
Hundreds of BJD workers including members from its youth and student wings staged a dharna here before the ECoR office. The party workers slammed the Centre for its decision of creating South Coast Railway by bifurcating ECoR.
The Railway Minister had announced bifurcation of the ECoR to create a new zone— South Coast Railway — with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It created the new zone giving it a portion of the Waltair division of the ECoR.
“It’s a conspiracy against Odisha. The Centre has divided the ECoR by keeping an eye on the upcoming elections at the cost of the development of the state and its railways. The bifurcation would harm the interests of Odisha,” said BJD general secretary Sanjay Das Burma.
He said the people will not forgive the Centre’s conspiracy to satisfy the people of Andhra Pradesh for its political gain. He alleged that railway networks in the state would be hampered as the creation of a SCoR will transfer assets to the neighbouring state.
Dasburma said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik opposed the move citing that it would harm the interests of Odisha.
“Odisha’s demand has been to unify railways within the state under ECoR by creating three more railway divisions with the proposed headquarters being Rourkela, Jajpur-Keonjhar road and Rayagada,” said the BJD leader.
The BJD leader said that the division of ECoR would ruin the railway network in the state as the creation of the SCoR will lead to the transfer of major assets to Andhra Pradesh.
“Northern and western Odisha provide iron ore and other minerals and generate huge revenue. However, both these areas are under the Bilaspur zone of the South Central Railway (SCR) and the Chakradharpur zone of the South Eastern Railway (SER),” he pointed out.
The BJD alleged that ECoR will lose loco sheds and wagon maintenance facilities, which would go to SCoR zone under Visakhapatnam after the bifurcation. Shouting slogans against the Central government the BJD demanded to repeal the decision.
Reacting to the BJD’s protest, state BJP spokesperson Golok Mohapatra said, “To cover-up its inefficiency the BJD government is staging the dharna. Earlier, the Centre provided Rs 5,000 crore in five years for the railway sector. But, now the allocation has been enhanced to over Rs 20,000 crore. However, over Rs 12,200 crore could not be utilized due to non-grant of forest clearance, delay in land acquisition by the state government.”