Berhampur: The Berhampur-Sambalpur railway line is yet to see the light of the day. The failure to execute this railway project exposes the neglect of the Centre and the state towards Sambalpur and Ganjam districts.
The Centre had given permission to the East Coast Railway to conduct a survey for laying the railway line in 2010-11. The East Coast Railway had submitted a survey report with 212 pages to the railway ministry. But the project has not been registered in the Pink Book of the railways so far. The project can start only after it is registered in the Pink Book.
Locals said lack of political will is the main reason for not executing the project. They said political leaders of south and West Odisha are not concerned about the project at all. The Berhampur-Sambalpur railway line is still resting in the files of the railways.
The preliminary survey on the Berhampur-Sambalpur railway line was conducted nine years ago. The survey report said the railway line will be 240 km long, and that it will connect the four Parliamentary constituencies of Berhampur, Aska, Kandhamal and Sambalpur.
Preliminary estimates said the project will need Rs 5,000 crore. Although the Railway Ministry conducted a survey for this project nine years ago, no funds were sanctioned. The project is now in the railways’ cold storage.
Lawyer B. Sankar Patra had sought data regarding this project through an RTI application. The reply said the project is not included in the Pink Book. The Centre had given a letter to the state government saying that it will provide free land for the project, and that the project will be constructed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
Lawyer Sankar said the line between Berhampur in South Odisha and Sambalpur in Western Odisha will help develop the districts and provide a low-cost travel option to people and create jobs. If the railway project is executed then it will be possible to go to Kandhmal and Boudha by train.
He said that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should consider the sensitiveness of the matter and take steps to execute the project.
The RTI reply said 16 new railway stations will be constructed between Sambalpur and Berhampur. There will be five tunnels, 38 big bridges and 184 medium and small bridges.
The railway line will link Jagganathpur, Hinjilicut, Asika, Bhanjamagarm Badangi, Chakapada, Phhulbani, Sanamunda, Mundapada, Boudha, Kadaligad and Redhakhol. But the main hurdle now in its execution is that it is not included in the Pink Book.
Niti Aayog had stressed connecting backward districts across the country through the railways. Since both Berhampur and Sambalpur have a sizeable population, the railway line will prove immensely beneficial, Sankar added.
What is Pink Book?
Programmes regarding works, machinery and rolling stock of the Railways are published every year by the Railway Board in a book called the Pink Book.
Funds allotted for each project in a particular railway zone (whether the work is in progress or a new one included in the current year’s budget) will be mentioned in this book.
Details like the abstract cost of projects, expenditure incurred so far, funds allotted during the current year and balance required are also given in the Pink Book.