Bolangir: Just two passengers daily travel on the Bolangir-Bichhupali passenger train in the district that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi January 15, 2019.
It fetches the Railways a daily revenue of just Rs 20 whereas the track between Bolangir and Bichhupali was built at a cost of Rs 115 crore.
“The per day number of passengers on the Bolangir-Bichhupali station is two and the earning is Rs 20,” said RB Jena, a public information officer at Sambalpur Division of East Coast Railway, in response to the RTI application filed by Bolangir-based RTI activist Hemanta Kumar Panda.
Given that a passenger train travels between the two stations twice a day, most of the time, it goes empty. Bolangir-Bichhupali rail line comes under the Bolangir-Khurda railway project.
Jena added that the 77.30 km-long distance between Khurda Road and Nayagarh has been completed and opened to public, while work on the portion between Mahipur and Nuagaon (90.65 km) is in progress and is likely to be commissioned in 2021.
The tender for the section between Nuagaon and Daspalla (105.90 km) has been invited and opened December 17, 2019.
Sources said a tripartite agreement was signed among the Centre, state and Railways in 2015. As per the agreement, the Khurda Road-Bolangir railway line was targeted to be functional and open to public by 2021.
Panda, however, alleged that the construction work is going on in a snail’s pace, it will take 10 more years for completion.
Panda also received the information to his RTI application in a letter dated December 3, 2019.
There is no promptness to complete the Bolangir-Bichhupali railway line which is the part of Bolangir-Khurda railway project. In the last one year, the Bolangir-Bichhupali line should have been extended to at least Sonepur. But as it has not been done Railways has been incurring huge losses,” Panda said.
The RTI activist said that the Union government should work on a war-footing to complete the project so that thousands of people from Bolangir, Sonepur, Kandhamal, Nayagarh and Khurda districts will benefit from the rail connectivity.
The rail link has been a long-standing demand of the locals as the segment had been surveyed before Independence in 1945. The 289-km long railway line from Bolangir to Khurda Road was sanctioned in 1994 while the foundation stone for it was laid in 2001.
The railway link is supposed to connect Bhubaneswar with Bolangir en-route Khurda, Nayagarh, Phulbani, Boudh and Sonepur districts. Out of the total length of the line, 26 km is in Bolangir district.