Thursday, September 6, 2007

Khurda-Balangir rail line work delay brews resentment

The Pioneer, Sept 6, 2007
Pioneer News Service | Phulbani

The inordinate delay in the construction of the Khurda - Balangir railway line has triggered severe public resentment, with people blaming the Centre for, deliberately, deferring the project.

Paucity of funds and delay in land acquisition are said to be the main factors that mar the speedy implementation of the project.

The 339 km long Khurda - Balangir railway line was sanctioned in 1994-95 and had raised the hopes of the people living in this perennially backward and neglected district. The line, which was supposed to run through Nayagarh, Phulbani, Boudh and Sonepur was expected to provide an impetus to the growth of the district.

The estimated cost of the project was Rs 354 crore initially but now the cost has escalated to Rs700 crore. As many as 17 railway stations, 441 bridges, 11 tunnels and 126 level-crossings were to be constructed as part of the project.

The Railway Ministry made a budgetary allocation of Rs15.38 crore in 2004-05 for the project and has this year earmarked Rs 10 crore, following which work on a 22-km stretch from Khurda was undertaken.

But no public representative of the area is happy with the pace of the project. Phulbani MP Sugriba Singh had also raised the issue in the Parliament sometime ago. Singh had also written a letter to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, alleging that even one-tenth of the project's total budget had not been released so far. He demanded immediate release of additional funds to expedite the construction work.

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