Thursday, July 12, 2007

Make KBK Rail Connectivity: a National Project

Dear esteemed Chief Minister, Commerce & Transport secretary
and Rail commissioner:

You may recall that the 2007-08 rail budget had very little allocation
for the new lines in Orissa such as Khurda Rd - Balangir. My analysis after
going through the rail budget is that it was not because Orissa was
singled out but because of recent Indian Railways policy

(a) to give priority to the gauge conversion of 13,000 kms of narrow gauge lines
(only 127 kms of which is in Orissa)

(b) to give priority to the projects labeled as national projects (J & K,
North eastern states)

(c) to force states to pay 50% or more for other projects

(d) to construct freight corridors (first two to be made during the 11th plan
do not pass through Orissa)

(e) to supplement metro rail construction in 10+ cities across India

(f) and to explore high speed corridors (none of the proposed ones pass through

Under these circumstances, and under normal circumstances
unless Orissa is able to find 50% of the necessary money
it may take 20-30 years or more for the Khurda-Balangir line and the
Juagarh-Nabrangpur-Jeypore-Malkangiri line to get complete.

The only way out is to try our best to designate the above lines
declared as national project with a time table of getting them done
during the 11th plan. If we succeed in getting them designated
as a national project then well and good, if not we may be able to
get them a high priority or force a change in the policy so that these
lines get done in 5 years. (This will be similar to the Vijaywada-Ranchi
highway, which although did not get the national highway designation,
got enough attention and funding promises to get in the priority list.)

A similar approach is being tried by Uttarakhand and recent news report
mention that Mr. Lalu Yadav has asked the PM to designate the making of certain lines
in Uttarakhand as national projects.

I think we need to move fast and make a similar effort by presenting
our case (to designate the making of lines in KBK+ as national project)
with both the PM as well as the railway minister. They claim to be in
a receptive mood vis-a-vis Orissa and we must not miss this chance.
We must make sure that the finishing of these lines in the next
five years is inked in the 11th plan.

To help you in this I have attached a draft presentation which
one may improve upon.

Again, this is the time. If we are not able to do something now, after the 11th
plan is being finalized, no matter how much we shout and cry in December/Jan/Feb it
may not help; as it did not help last year.

Please, please urgently contact Mr. Lalu Yadav and the PM and make
the case, and if necessary write about it, go to the media etc. etc. as you
did successfully with respect to the Vijaywada-Ranchi highway.

sincerely and with best regards

Chitta Baral
Professor, Arizona State University

The following documents contains the proposal by Prof Chitta Baral to make KBK Rail Connectivity a National Project for bringing new infrastructure to backward KBK+ cluster.

Proposal in PPT

Proposal with a map in PDF

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Railway link yet to see light of day

The Statesman, July 11, 2007
Statesman News Service
ROURKELA, July 10: The railway ministry continues to show its step-motherly attitude towards the Talcher-Bimlagarh railway line, which is one of the most important and vital railway links in the state. This is one of the most controversial railway projects, having been undertaken about forty years ago and is yet to witness completion. Every year money is put on this 200 kilometre project, for the purpose of keeping it alive.
Answering to a question raised by Mr Juel Oram, the MP, Sundergarh, Mr Velluraman the minister of state for railways, informed that the department has sanctioned an amount of Rs 15 crore for this railway link. The minister added that the amount has been allotted for expansion, survey and other such works needed before laying the railway track.
It is disheartening to learn that after so many years, the amount has been increased by five crore said a railway official here. “The ministry is not very serious about it, for which it has been neglected for years. This little amount is meant to keep the project alive,” the official said.
This vital link will certainly go a long way in improving the economic condition of the state, besides increasing the connectivity between western and coastal Orissa. This railway link will also provide an easy approach for goods to reach the Paradip port and it will earn more profit. Besides, the Paradip will become busy in comparison to others.
This part of the state witnessed mass movements, demanding the completion of the project, but so far nothing has moved beyond the drawing board. The political parties are putting blame on each other, but the fact is that no party ever took this project very seriously.
Mr Kahnu Charana Lenka, who was once the minister for state railways could not do any thing to write about. The same thing happened when the BJD was a major constituent in the BJP led NDA government.