Ahead of the December 5 bypoll to Padampur assembly seat, the BJD government in Odisha on Sunday raked up a ‘shelved’ railway project connecting Bargarh to Nuapada, accusing the Centre of neglecting the people’s demand for improving the connectivity there.
The 142-kilometre new broad-gauge line between Bargarh Road to Nuapada Road stations via Padampur was sanctioned in 2018, but later was “shelved by the Centre”, state Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu said.
The woman leader of the BJD, in a letter to Railway Minister Ashiwni Vaishnaw, urged him to sanction the Bargarh-Nuapada new railway line as it would boost economic activities in the region.
Accusing the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre of neglecting people in the region, BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty pointed out that “Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had, on December 15 in 2018 in a public meeting, announced that a new railway line from Bargarh station to Nuapada via Padampur was sanctioned by the Centre.”
Noting that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, since 2018, has been requesting the Centre for the sanction of the railway project, the BJD leader said it “has not seen light of the day so far which is one of the instances of the Centre’s negligence towards people of Odisha and Padampur in particular”.
The state’s ruling party leader also claimed that “in 2019, then railway minister informed that the project was shelved as it did not seem to be financially viable despite having a 17.31 per cent rate of return which is much higher than the requirement for approving a new line”.
He also pointed out that on October 10, 2019, the then Railway Board urged the Odisha government to provide free land and resettlement and rehabilitation cost for land acquisition for considering the project.
CM Naveen Patnaik had not only approved free land for the entire project but also pledged Rs 300 crore for construction, Mohanty said.
The ruling party leader also alleged that the Centre, in the last five years, has not provided a single new railway line solely funded by the central government.
Vaishnaw had, in January, informed Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari about in-principle approval being accorded to the new line connecting Bargarh Road to Nuapada.
In a letter to Pujari, Vaishnaw had said that in principle approval has been given to the new rail line project for taking up pre-investment activity by the Ministry of Railways.
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