Centre slashes Railways budget allocations for Odisha

The Odisha government on Saturday lodged a protest with the Centre over reduction in the budgetary allocation for the state in the 2012-13 railway budget and demanded its restoration.

“I strongly protest against the step-motherly attitude of the Railways towards Odisha. I further request you to take immediate steps to restore the budgetary allocation made for Odisha for the year 2012-13,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to railway minister Mukul Roy.

The CM’s letter followed reports that the railway authorities had reduced the budgetary allocation made to different projects in Odisha in 2012-13 by Rs 186 crore. “This is gross injustice to Odisha’s interest,” Naveen said, pointing out that the state had earned Rs 7500 crore revenue for Railways in 2011-12.

Naveen said the state government had projected a demand of Rs 2345 for different railway projects in 2012-13, but the railway budget made a “very small” allocation of Rs 723 crore. “Now suddenly again the railways have announced this reduction which will go against the interests of Odisha,” he added.

Stating that Odisha was in the midst of a strong industrialization programme, Naveen said railway projects were planned to cater to the increasing demand of industry, trade and commerce of the state. “Reduction in the budgetary allocation would greatly hamper the industrialisation process in the state. This would also hurt the common man in creation of passenger amenities at various railway stations is concerned,” Naveen added.

In a separate letter, the CM requested Roy to commission Khurda Road-Puri section (doubling) before Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar Festival in 2015. Naveen said 40 to 50 lakh of pilgrims are expected in the next Nabakalebar festival and added that more than 100 special trains will be required in addition to the regular train services to cater to the needs of the pilgrims.

Noting that the Khurda-Puri branch line was sanctioned for doubling in 2001, Naveen said so far only the 15-km Khurda-Delang stretch has been commissioned while the remained 28.7 km remains to be completed. “In order to meet the increased demand of train services for the next Nabakalebar festival, the line capacity of Puri-Khurda branch line has to be increased urgently,” he added.

Also on Saturday, the ruling BJD’s youth wing remonstrated against the Centre for slashing budgetary allocation to Odisha in 2012-13. “It is really humiliating that after announcing a meagre Rs 723 crore for the state, the railways has now brought it down by Rs 186 crore,” Biju Yuva Janata Dal president Sanjay Dasburma said, warning the Congress-led UPA government of statewide agitation and string repercussions. He said the downward revision of fund allotment has worst affected the Raipur-Titlagarh-Sambalpur rail line doubling, for which the budget in 2012-13 has been reduced from Rs 230 crore to Rs 82 crore.

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