Thursday, November 20, 2008

Memo to Central team demands railway linkage to Kandhamal

The Pioneer, Nov 20, 2008
PNS | Bhubaneswar

The Agami Odisha, the Swabhiman Manch and the Lok Sammukhya on Wednesday jointly submitted a memorandum to the Central Ministerial team, led by Sharad Pawer, demanding railway linkage to the tribal Kandhamal district.

On behalf of the organisations, coordinator Lalit Mohan Pattnaik and joint coordinator Bikram Swain said that due to lack of connectivity, the locals cannot intermingle with outside people and hence social transformation of the tribal communities in the district cannot take place. Further, their products could not be transported outside and hence they got less value for their products, which were looted by the outside traders at much less market price, they added.

A rail line connecting Lanjigarh to Phulbani to Angul would bisect Kandhamal and upcoming Khurda-Balangir rail line and it would serve as a bypass link between Bhubaneswar to Koraput zone, they said adding that the rate of return from this railway stretch would be much more than 14 %, which is required by the Railway Board to sanction a new rail line.

Friday, October 31, 2008

House panel to meet Lalu in Nov

The Pioneer, Oct 31, 2008

The House Committee of the State Legislative Assembly on Railway will call on Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on the second week of November and submit a memorandum for development and possible expansion of railway network in the State. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by the Assembly Speaker Kishore Mohanty on Thursday.

Speaker Mohanty asked the MLAs to submit proposal within a week on the possible development of railway which can be taken up in their constituency. “Later, a final memorandum would be prepared and submitted to the Railway Minister,” said Transport and Commerce Minister Jaynarayan Mishra.

The MLAs criticised the Centre for decrease in allotment of funds for expansion of railway networks. Though the State Government urged the Centre to take up a number of projects, not a single project has been approved. Gopalpur- Raygada, Jajpur- Keonjhar Road- Jajpur town, Sambalpur- Berhampur, Bolangir- Nuapada, Bansapani- Bimalagarha, Lanjigarha- Boudh, Barbil- Bansapani have been neglected in the railway budget.

The doubling of railway lines like Daitari-Bansapani, Haridaspur, Paradeep, Talcher- Samablpur, Smabalpur-Jharsuguda have also been neglected.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

KBK situation is still miserable

BHUBANESWAR, Oct 26: Two decades of focused intervention, entailing pumping in crores of rupees, seems to have had little impact on the notoriously backward KBK region (erstwhile undivided Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi districts) according to the Food Security Atlas released by World Food Programme and Institute for Human Development.
"It is surprising that the efforts put into the development of the region have not yielded tangible results," states the report, while dealing with KBK region and noting that widespread malnutrition and mortality levels are a pointer to the dismal situation.
The region is characterised by wastelands, scrublands, low agriculture development, abysmally low literacy levels and high malnutrition levels.
The KBK region accounts for 31 per cent of the total area of the state, but only 20 per cent of the total population indicating low density of population. A huge part of the region is unfit for cultivation and is mostly degraded forests and scrublands. Koraput, for instances, has more than 1,000 sq kms of its area under wastelands.
Low levels of land development in the region have resulted in poor performance on the agricultural front. Despite all talk of wasteland development, the fact is that the region has not benefited from the programme as yet.
Consequent to this is the fact that very small area can be cultivated twice in an agricultural year and the cropping intensity is low. Only 19 per cent of the total area of Rayagada district is under cultivation while it is barely 20 per cent in Malkangiri district, 35 per cent in Koraput, 37 per cent in Bolangir and 41 percent in Kalahandi. The KBK average works out to 35.5 per cent in terms of area under cultivation.
The food grain yield per heactre in KBK region is 590 kg with the yield per hectare in some districts like Nuapada being as low as 221 kg, Bolangir 302 kg and Kalahandi 491 kg said the report.
Less than five per cent of the surveyed tribal population were found to be in a food secure situation in these districts. The proportion of extremely food insecure tribal households that can hardly manage one square meal a day is highest in Rayagada district at almost 12 per cent of the tribal population being unable to get one meal per day for major part of the year. Five of the eight districts in the region have a less than 10 per cent urbanisation level and these districts have a very high proportion of STs, almost twice the proportion of tribes in other parts of the state.
Other parameters too show that KBK is lagging behind the rest of the state. Koraput, Nawarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada have a rural female literacy rate of less than 20 per cent. The food insecurity status of the region manifests itself in high mortality and malnourishment. Most of the districts in the region record over 150 child deaths per 1000 live births and over 40 percent of the children are in the moderately underweight category.
Shockingly, the situation prevailing in KBK region is despite special interventions in the form of Area Development for Poverty Termination (ADAPT) in 1988 followed by the Long Term Action Plan ( LTAP) in 1993 and the Revised Long Term Action Plan ( RLTAP) in 1998. Each of these schemes involved expenditure of crores of rupees towards overall improvement of the region, feeding programmes, water harvesting etc.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

From Hindu: Maoist activity surpasses militancy in J&K, northeast - news analysis

This is exactly why the central govt. needs to pay special attention towards the development of theses interior frontier of Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Following is the Hindu article:

Maoist activity surpasses militancy in J&K, northeast news analysis K. Srinivas Reddy

HYDERABAD: Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil might want the country to believe that Left-wing extremism is not a big challenge to the internal security of the country, but his Ministry has now ‘unwittingly’ declared statistics which reveal that the Maoist activity had actually surpassed militancy in the north-eastern States and in Jammu and Kashmir in terms of killings of civilians and security forces personnel.

Status paper

The latest status paper on the ‘Internal Security Situation’ discloses that as many as 2,281 civilians and 821 security forces personnel were killed between 2004 and 2008 (up to August 31) due to Maoist activity.

The comparative figures for the same period show that militancy in Jammu and Kashmir resulted in the killing of 1,883 civilians and 789 security forces personnel. The militancy-related fatalities in the north-east were 1,909 civilians and 361 security forces personnel.

It was none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who cautioned the States — in December 2007 at a conclave on internal security — that Maoist insurgency was the single biggest challenge to security.

Just about two months later, Mr. Patil disagreed with Dr. Singh and said the Left-wing extremism did not pose such a danger to internal security.

Answering a question in the “Devil’s Advocate” programme on CNN-IBN, Mr. Patil argued that there was no need to create a fear psychosis among the people about the Maoist insurgency. Playing on words, the Home Minister pointed out: “If one said 10 States were affected, it would mean 30 per cent of the country. If one went by 130 districts affected, it would mean 25 per cent. But if one took into account the number of police stations, it would give a picture of only three per cent.”

And now the Ministry status paper points out that the Maoist violence has become extremely intense in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

“Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand accounted for 68.07 per cent of the total incidents and 58.56 per cent of total casualties.”

The Ministry puts it on record that the Maoist activity is present in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal.

However, intelligence officials unofficially admit there is widespread consolidation of Maoists across the country.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coverage in Prerana on visit of Railway Board Chairman to Balangir

Initiative by Lalit Babu for Lanjigarh road - Phulbani-Angul Railway Link

Yesterday in an Action Plan for Khandhamal, I proposed our Rail Line demand for growth of Khandhamal to be included. The rail line should connect Lanjigarah Station to Angul via Phulbani that will almost bisect Khandhamal District. The chairman Dr Bhagaban & Prof Radhamohan appreciated the proposal but there were very few in public who could fully visualise the would be impact of our demand in peace making process.

In the mean time many a reporter and public of Bolangir region have telephoned me and have highly appriciated our proposal about Khandhamal that came out in a local news paper after our meeting at Bolangir. ........................

Yours,
Lalit Mohan Pattnaik

Monday, October 6, 2008

Set deadline for Khurda-Balangir rly line: Acharya

The Pioneer, Oct 7, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Balangir

The construction of proposed Khurda-Balangir railway line, which was approved in 1993 at an estimated cost of Rs 383 crore, is still in its infancy, said chairman of Standing Committee of Railway and MP Basudev Acharya while speaking to mediapersons on Sunday.

Once a target date is fixed for the project by the Railway Department, it would ensure regular flow of fund till completion, he said, adding that Rs 64 crore has been allocated for the project in 2007.

He also assured to take necessary steps so that the total allocation of funds for development of Railways in the State can be increased substantially.

Due to absence of repair unit in the State, wagons are being sent to Khargarpur for repair, he said, adding that a wagon repair unit needs to be established in the State.

Accompanied by Left leader Shivaji Patanaik, Acharya talked to the members of the Citizen Committees of Balangir and the Joint Action Committee for Khurdha-Balangir Railway line. Bhavani Shankar Satpathy and Ramesh Prasad Naik were also present.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Roll back rail profit; NROs

Tathya, Aug 15, 2008
Bhubaneswar:15/August/2008

Now every body has coolly forgotten about the Ministry of Railways’s continued apathetic attitude towards Orissa.

From the Chief Minister to the Member of Parliament (MP) used to be raging war against the Centre maintaining cool cool attitude, alleges leading Non Resident Oriyas (NRO).

While the Indian Railway Board Chairman is working overtime for the projects in Bihar to be completed in time, the officials are boasting for a whopping Rs.52, 000 crore investment in Bihar by 2011!!!

Media reports say that all the railway projects in Bihar stipulating an investment of Rs 52,000 crore, would be completed by 2011, Girish Bhatnagar, General Manager of East Central Railway (ECR) said recently.

The wheel and axle plant at Chapra, in the parliamentary constituency of Railway minister Lalu Prasad, would commence commercial production within 18 months, he said.

Adding the process of land acquisition for the Diesel Engine plant at Marhowrah and Electric Locomotive workshop at Madhepura was going on full steam, revealed the GM.

Mr. Bhatnagar informed that he had meeting with Chief Minister recently seeking acquisition of required land for railway projects.

Nitish Kumar has issued necessary instructions to the concerned state officials engaged in the task.

Mr.Bhatnagar said while expressing satisfaction over Chief Minister's positive response.

"Both the projects are being executed taking into account the size of estimated traffic by 2050 and would be completed on public-private participation," he said.

While Bihar is fully geared up for the railway expansion, Orissa is in deep slumber, alleged Chitta Baral.

Prof. Baral said that “We have been urging the Chief Minister and the MPs to make the case that all the Orissa projects should also be finished by the end of the 11th plan; but to no avail.

The irony is that to finish the scheduled Orissa projects, no extra money is needed.

It is estimated that Indian Railway will make about 2,800 crore/year profit from Orissa which in 5 years will be Rs.14,000 crores.

The link has all the details: http://www.kbkrail.orissalinks.com/

so if we demand the entire profit to be rolled back in Orissa than there is more than enough for the completion of the projects like Khurda Rd - Nayagarh – Balangir, Lanjigarh Rd - Junagarh - Nabrangpur - Jeypore - Malkangiri - Bhadrachalam Rd , Raygada – Gopalpur, Naupada- Gunupur – Theruvali, Talcher - Bimlagarh and Baripada-Bangiriposi – Chakulia.

All these projects add up to only Rs. 5300 crores.

So if Bihar can aim and achieve the spending of 52,000 crores by 2011, why can not Orissa just ask that profit from Orissa be put in Orissa for the duration of the 11th plan ?, asked Dhirendra Kar, another concerned NRO

Mr. Kar is of view that when we are referring to connectivity to the most backward areas of the country, this should have been harped by the leaders of the state.

With only Rs. 5300 crore out of Rs. 14000 crore spent in the above projects the following railway lines can be taken up in Public –Private-Partnership (PPP) mode costing very little to the Railways- about Rs.1700 crores, revealed Digambara Mishra.

Professor Mishra suggested that Haridaspur – Paradeep, Angul – Sukinda, Bhadrakh – Dhamara and Rupsa – Kirtania can be taken up on PPP mode.

Digambara Patra, leading NRO said that after that Orissa will have another Rs. 7000 crores and it can target lines Lanjigarh Rd - Phulbani – Talcher, Lanjigarh Road – Gopalpur, Phulabni-Berhampur.

Prof.Patra added that Phulbani-Berhampur, Nawapara Road- Bargarh, Talcher-Hindol Road-Gopalpur, Khurda-Naraj Circular Road and Barang-Astaranga railway connectivity can be taken care of with the profits

Only the state has to force the Indian Railways Board for the East Coast Railways (ECOR) profit to be rolled back in Orissa and we are not asking any alms, said Lalit Patnaik, Chief of Agami Orissa.

Deba Nayak, another leading NRO has also urged upon the Chief Minister to take up the issue and force the Centre for rail connectivity to all the 30 districts of Orissa.

Echoing his concern Sandip Das Verma, a leading voice among the NROs has said that connectivity to the worst poverty zones of the country will go in a long way to eliminate Maoist menace in Orissa.

While sitting thousands of miles away from the country the NROs are showing serious concern for their motherland, on the Independence Day almost all the Ministers are busy in making hallow promises to woo the people and forgotten the real issue hurting the state most.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jena lollypop for Orissa

Tathya.in, July 27, 2008

Kalyan Coomar Jena knows that Oriyas are satisfied with small things.

So predictably the much hyped Orissa visit of the Indian Railway Board Chairman has yielded only lollypops, feel infrastructure experts.

Mr.Jena known for his bureaucratic mode of operations was happy to note that the State Government will form two committees to pursue the railways projects.

The Chief Minister, who being advised by his mandarins runs the show proposed for the committees to be headed by Chief Secretary.

The Chief Secretary is heading more than 50-plus committees and no body keeps track of the committees, said an insider.

Indian Railway will now have more excuses and can accuse the state more about this and that, feel leading NRO Professor Chitta Baral.

Also, the co-ordination committee, headed by the Chief Secretary itself will get influenced by the Bureaucracy of the Indian Railways, apprehend he.

Mr. Jena's statement on Khurda Rd - Nayagarh - Balangir line is very wishy-washy.

What is needed that a firm commitment from Indian Railways that this line will be completed during the Eleventh plan.

Nothing was said about Talcher - Bimlagarh line which would bring areas in the tribal district of Sundergarh closer to the capital and make Rourkela and Bhubaneswar much closer.

It seems, as always, we are sacrificing the interests of the adivasis and backward areas of KBK districts.

With the recent Maoist mayhem in those areas, the state government should have demanded fast track connectivity to the areas of Gajapati-Rayagada-Malakngiri-Nabarangpur.

Out of box thinking is needed now, said an infrastructure consultant.

As the Chairman Railway Board said that investors are unwilling to invest at Barang to develop it as a World class railway station, which raises doubt in the minds of the people of Orissa.

Few days ago the experts of Chinese delegation visited Barang and rejected the idea to develop it as a world class station.

Now the Railway Board Chairman says the investors are not willing to invest.

The moot question is when the Railway Board invited proposals from the investors through an international bidding asked an expert.

No such steps were taken by the Railway Board, said he.

Then how come the Chairman says the investors are not willing to fund the same.

The State Government, which is more influenced by the bureaucracy can not dream big, so we will have only pea nuts, lamented an insider.

He said Orissa is now having huge investments on IIT, NISER and 2 World Class Universities.

Have ever the bureaucrats dreamt about it; never.

It is only the civil society and leading NROs raised the voice for which Orissa achieved the unbelievable in the higher education sector.

Similarly the rail connectivity issue has to be harped repeatedly at the level of Prime Minister and Planning Commission level, which will yield positive results, said he.

Setting up a committee or two will not yield big results, feel the experts.

Again in Bihar: 930 crore and 625 crore rail cum road bridges

SOME MAJOR BRIDGES UNDER EXECUTION IN EAST CENTRAL RAILWAYS

Ganga Railway Bridge at Digha in Patna is expected to be ready by 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs. 625 crore. The total length of this bridge including approach would be 20 km and the length of the main bridge between Digha and Pahleja Ghat would be 4.925 Km. As there is no rail link between North and South Bihar this project was taken up to face that traffic. Rail link is available only at Mokama at a distance of 93 km downstream of Patna. This new bridge between Digha and Pahleza is an useful infrastructure to improve trade and industries in that backward area.

RAIL CUM ROAD BRIDGE AT MUNGER

Ganges is a holy river where millions of Hindus throng to take bath and shed their sins as per Hindu belief. So it is an important pilgrim centre for one and all. A rail cum road bridge on Ganges near Munger has been taken up at a cost of Rs.930 crore. This 3.19 Km long bridge is 55 Kms down stream of the existing rail cum road bridge at Mokama and 68 Kms Upstream of the road bridge at Bhagalpur on river Ganges.

This magnificent bridge will connect NH31 of North Bihar to NH-80 of south Bihar and will also connect Jamalpur station of Sahibang Loop line (Malda division) of Eastern Railway to Barauni Katihar section on Sonepur division of East Central Railway. This mega bridge will support several lakh passengers from 2009 onwards.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fast track panel constituted to expedite railway projects in Orissa

The Pioneer, July 26, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

In a significant decision, the State Government and railway authorities have decided to form a fast track committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to supervise the works of different ongoing rail projects in the State and expedite the works.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Railway Board chairman Kalyan Coomar Jena. Jena called on Patnaik at the State Secretariat. Both railway and State Government officials would be included as members of the committee.

It was decided that all efforts would be taken to build a world class railway station at Bhubaneswar. The Fast Track committee constituted under the Chief Secretary would supervise the works of the railway station also. ":The work will be completed in a time bound manner," said Jena. Sources said efforts would be taken to complete the railway station within three months. Hostels and malls would be set up. Railway authorities have identified 100 acres of land for this purpose between Manheswar and Lingaraj railway station. The hotels and malls would be set on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode.

Discussions were also held on regarding the progress on Haridaspur- Paradip, Khurda-Balangir, Lanjigarha-Junagarh and Doupada-Gunupur rail lines.

Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, Secretary Transport and Commerce Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Bijoy Kumar Pattnaik and other senior officials from the railways attended the meeting.

Railways to set up three more factories: again Bihar gets two

The New Indian Express, July 25, 2008

TIRUCHY: Three new railway factories would be established in the current year, said Raj Kamal Rao, Member Mechanical, Railway Board, here on Wednesday.

Speaking to journalists after flagging off locos and passenger cars for Tanzanian Railway Ltd at Ponmalai workshop, Rao said that in the last four years, the Indian Railways had seen an unprecedented growth both in freight and passenger traffic - 60 million tonnes of freight and 12 per cent growth in passenger traffic.

Taking pride in the Ponmalai unit as one of the most efficient workshops in India, Rao said 8000 wagons were manufactured every year which had at present increased to 15,000. “In the current year it was proposed to manufacture 20,000 wagons among which 800 would be built at Ponmalai and this would be increased upto 1000”, he said.

Stating that three new factories would be established - one in Rae Bareli for coaches, another at Chabra in Bihar for diesel locomotives and the third at Madhapura in Bihar for electric locomotives.

Chief Mechanical Engineer V Carmalius, DRM S Subramanian, Chief Workshop Manager S Rangarajan and others were present.

NOTE: Bihar gets more than 3 railway factories and Orissa gets none during this Government

Friday, July 18, 2008

Railway Board to review Orissa projects in Delhi

The Pioneer, July 18, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

With an emphasis on railway projects in Orissa, a very high-level review will be conducted by Chairman of the Railway Board Kalyan Coomar Jena and other member of the Board on the status of the projects under the East Coast Railway (ECoR) jurisdiction.

ECoR General Manager Ajay Kumar Goyal left for New Delhi to make a presentation on the ongoing projects. He will make a special emphasis on early completion of all important sanctioned project works. The discussion will centre on better rail connectivity and completion of the projects, according to an official release here on Thursday.

Goyal will pitch for evolvement of a new policy which would help expedite the sanctioned project works. Meanwhile, discussions were held by ECoR General Manager with State Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy on early completion of infrastructure and other rail projects.

Goyal would refer to these issues during his talks with the Railway Board members and Railway Ministry officials in Delhi, said the release.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CM visits Delhi over rail projects

The Statesman, July 18, 2008
Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, July 17: Chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik, who is in New Delhi for a two-day tour, called on railway board chairman Mr Kalyan Coomar Jena today and discussed about various railway projects in the state.
The chief minister emphasised on the need for expansion and augmentation of railway infrastructure in the state.
“As the state is on the threshold of a major industrial upsurge, this will necessitate laying of new railway links and bulk cargo handling and hence, there is an urgent need for development of railway infrastructure,” the chief minister pointed out.
Mr Patnaik rued over the fact that the railway route length in the state is well below the national average and also much less than the neighbouring states.
Referring to the pending Khurda Road-Bolangir line, the chief minister said that there has been very little progress in the project. Only Rs 32 crore have been sanctioned during the current financial year, the chief minister pointed out and stressed for increased allocation for the crucial project.
Maintaining that the KBK districts have a high percentage of tribal population, he stressed on the need for sanction of Jeypore-Malkangiri (117 km) line for which survey has already been completed. The advent of railways would lead to socio-economic development of the region, the chief minister felt.
"The state government has entered into MoUs for setting up of two alumina plants in that region and in that context, Lanjigarh Road- Junagarh new BG railway link assumes immense importance," the chief minister said while stressing on early commissioning of Lanjigaarh-Bhawaniptna section.
The government is committed for development of Gopalpur, Dhamra and Subarnarekha mouth (Kirtania) ports into all-weather ports along the coast line, the CM reiterated and emphasised on the railway lines connecting Rupsa-Burhamara to Chakulia (50km), Nuapada-Gunupua BG rail link to Theruvali (79km) and Bansapani-Barbil for which preliminary surveys have been completed. While underlining the need for expeditiously completing the residual work on Daitari-Banspani BG rail link, he suggested introduction of an intercity express between Bhubaneswar and Jamsedpur via Keonjhar. He further suggested for early commissioning of Cuttack-Barang doubling. The chief minister pressed upon the need to consider increased allocation of funds to ensure speedy execution of the sanctioned projects and also sanctioning of new projects.
Expressing happiness over identification of Bhubaneswar as one of the locations for a world class railway station, Mr Patnaik emphasised the need for introduction of new trains, extension and increase in frequency of mail and express trains, improved passenger amenities at the stations. “Although four new trains and one extension were announced in this railway budget, they have not yet been introduced,” Mr Patnaik drew Mr Jena’s attention.
The chief minister also expressed interest for early normalisation of Balsore-Kharagpur section and restoration of normal coaching services as 19 trains will stand cancelled because of the breach of railway track between Contai Road and Bakhrabad in the recent floods.
The railway chairman Mr Jena informed the chief minister that Puri-Keonjhargarh train services will be introduced before October this year. This apart, the other project works highlighted by the chief minister would soon be expedited, Mr Jena assured.
East Coast Railway general manager Mr AK Goyal, who was present at the meeting, suggested for evolvement of a new policy which would help in expediting the sanctioned works.

Similar article published in Orissgovt site

Rail Board chairman to meet Naveen today

The Pioneer, July 17, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Rail Board Chairman Kalyan Coomar Jena will meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Orissa Niwas in New Delhi on Thursday. During the meeting, Patnaik would draw the attention of the chairman towards how the State has been neglected by the Railway authorities.

He would also urge the chairman to take steps to expedite the works of the ongoing rail projects in the State.

The projects like Khurda Road -Nayagarh - Balangir, Talcher - Bimlagarh, Naupada-Gunupur- Theruvali, Lanjigarh Road -Bhawanipatna -Junagarh-Nabarangpur-Jeypore - Malkangiri - Bhadramchalam - Bhadrachalam Road, Buramara - Chakulia and Bangiriposi - Gurumahisani-Keonjhar would come up for discussion during the meeting. Patnaik would also urge Jena to take up steps in expanding the rail network in the Maoist-affected areas of the State. He is also likely to draw the attention of the chairman towards the disruption of rail service between Orissa and West Bengal through Balasore.

The whole rail network has been badly hit after the recent flood that wrought havoc in north Orissa. Though a number of days have passed, the rail authorities are yet to restore the rail service fully between Howrah and Puri.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Non-resident Oriyas rue Railway Board chief's attitude towards Orissa projects

The Pioneer, July 16, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Non-resident Oriyas (NROs) are quite unhappy over the railway authorities' attitude towards the long-delayed projects in Orissa, including the Khurda Road -Balangir rail line.

Railway Board chairman Kalyan Coomar Jena, who hails from Orissa, was invited to the convention of the Orissa Society of Americas (OSA) recently held in Toronto in North America. Jena dismissed speeding up of the Khurda-Balangir project projects without significant contributions from the State Government on the plea that it is a social line.

The NROs repeatedly reminded Jena that the three zones operating in Orissa -- East Coast Railways (ECoR), South Eastern Railways (SER) and South Eastern Central Railways (SECR) -- are the highest profit-making zones, but Orissa and Chhattisgarh have the lowest railway densities.

The areas of concern are the connectivity to KBK districts and the other tribal districts of Orissa like Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh, which are among the most backward areas in the country. The proposed rail lines include the Khurda Road -Nayagarh - Balangir, Talcher - Bimlagarh, Naupada-Gunupur- Theruvali, Lanjigarh Road -Bhawanipatna -Junagarh-Nabarangpur-Jeypore - Malkangiri - Bhadramchalam - Bhadrachalam Road, Buramara - Chakulia and Bangiriposi - Gurumahisani-Keonjhar.

The NROs pointed out that the minerals extracted and transported from those districts are the contributing factors in making these railway zones highly profitable. If only Indian Railways had listened to the plea of Orissa and completed the Khurda Road-Balangir line, which it started 15 years ago, and the line from Jeypore to Malkangiri and beyond, the Maoist mayhems in Nayagarh and Malkangiri would have been avoided.

Some participants at the meeting like Purna Mishra and Chitta Baral were armed with statistics from various IR publications and web sites to counter the arguments of Jena. They rubbished the contention that the Indian Railways was only going after profitable routes. Prof Baral pointed out that the IR priorities include gauge conversion of 12,000 km, most of which is not profitable.

What made some of the participants really sad that the Railway Board chairman did not even sympathise when pointed out that while huge profits are made by ECoR, SER and SECR, the big money of the 11th Plan is going to freight corridors, high-speed rail and metro rails, none of which benefits Orissa. The NROs were of the view that the Railway Board Chairman was pursuing a highly bureaucratic approach.

Jena repeated that he has Rs 1,000 crore for Orissa, and breaking that up to various projects leaves little for social projects like Khurda Road-Balangir.

It was pointed out to him that when ECoR is estimated to make Rs 3,600 crores of profit during 2008-09, he is talking about only Rs 1,000 crore.

In addition, the NROs demanded that the IR, the largest employer in the world, must make two production units in the backward and tribal areas of KBK so that it indeed gives a fair employment opportunity to the tribals.

Similar report in Tathya.in

Online move for rail network

Tathya.in, July 7, 2008
Bhawanipatna:7/July/2008

Poor communication links of rail and road has resulted in expansion of Red Corridor in the tribal districts of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chhatisgarh.

While most of the Maoist activities are centered round the KBK Region of the State, the ultras are expanding their tentacles to the nearby underdeveloped areas.

While Prime Minister Dr.Man Mohan Singh is dubbing the Red Menace as the “ most dangerous virus”, in deciding the connectivity plans for the country, case of KBK has been ignored time and again.

So under the leadership of Digambara Patra, a leading Non Resident Oriya (NRO), the intelligentsia of Orissa has taken up the cause of rail expansion in a big way.

An online signature campaign is underway to raise awareness on the issue of rail connectivity.

More than 60 have signed the online petition and many are joining the league.

Making a full fledged research on the subject, they have demanded for special treatment by the Indian Railway Board in declaring the Kalahandi-Balangir- Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa, other adjacent tribal regions of Andhra Pradesh and Chhatisgarh as a national project.

KBK is the poorest and most backward region in India.

While other backward regions in India like North Eastern States, J&K and Himachal Pradesh have received special treatment by Railway Board, KBK region has been neglected since decades, lamented Dr.Patra.

Naxal activities are predominantly high in the border regions of Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh due to poor communication and infrastructure, said he.

And recently it is spreading to other bordering and backward districts like Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts.

The railway infrastructure in Orissa and Chhatisgarh is substantially low compared to national average despite both the states are in the profit making zones, where as railway infrastructure in Bihar and West Bengal are remarkably high though they are the loss making zones.

East Coast zone and South Eastern zone covering Orissa state and South East Central zone covering Chhatisgarh are among top most profit making zones.

And large amount of profit made by Indian Railways comes from the transportation revenue from coal, ores and minerals for which both the states substantially contribute.

However, Indian railway has ignored KBK region of Orissa and Chhatisgarh since decades.

Indian Railway Board has always danced to the tune of the political bosses ignoring the genuine requirement of the states, lamented Madhusmita Panda, another online petitioner.

For example, Khordha Road – Balangir and Lanjigarh Road – Junagarh railway lines in Orissa which were approved much earlier than Muzaffarpur – Sitamari and Sultanganj-Deogarh lines in Bihar are still struggling to be completed, where as other two lines in Bihar are completed, said she.

Pratyusa Mandhata asked for uniformity in approving projects and said that during last 15 years, more railway lines were approved in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal than Orissa and Chhatisgarh.

In last 5 years Indian Railway has set up 3 factories in Bihar (loss making zone) and one in Kerala (another loss making zone), but none of the plants including the recently proposed power plant by Indian Railway, was being established in Orissa or Chhatisgarh, said Mr.Mandhata.

Sandip Dasvarma, leading NRO said that since decades less funds are allotted in the Railway Budgets to profit making zones like East Coast Railway (ECOR) and South East Central Railway (SECR), which is much lower than that of loss making zones.

The petitioners have requested the Orissa and Chhatisgarh Governments to provide land free of cost for railway development in the backward region.

And they have requested the Government of India is to declare all the railway projects in KBK and bordering regions in Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh as national projects in the line of North Eastern states of India immediately.

They have demanded to complete Khordha road – Balangir railway line to connect the KBK region with state capital

Approval of Junagarh – Ambaguda line proposed under extension of Lanjigarh Road – Junagarh is needed.

Approval is requested for Bargarh – Padampur - Nuapada road - Kantabanji – Khariar- Ampani-Navarangur- Jeypore – Makangiri – Kottagudem (Andhra Pradesh) new line in the backward region, which would help to control Maoist menace by bringing development in the region

The petitioners have demanded to carry out new survey and approve Rajim (Chhatisgarh) – Gariaband (Chhatisgarh) – Deobhog (Chhatisgahr) – Junagarh – Lanjigarh road – Simanbadi (Kandhamal) – Asika- Berhampur – Gopalpur line to directly connect Raipur with Gopalpur port passing through one of the most backward regions of India.

They have also demanded that new survey of Dhamtari (Chhatisgarh) – Umarkote (Orissa) – Nabrangpur (Orissa) line, an alternative direct access to Gopalpur and Visakhapatnam ports from Raipur and other mining region in Chhatisgarh is to be developed.

Carrying out of fresh survey of the Simanbadi -Phulbani-Angul line is needed to benefit NALCO by further reducing the distance between Damanjodiand Angul, said the online petitioners.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rs.4,000 cr. spent for railway works in TN

The Hindu, Junly 3, 2008

SIVAGANGA: The Indian Railways had spent Rs.4,000 crore towards various projects undertaken in Tamil Nadu during the last four years of United Progressive Alliance Government, said R. Velu, Minister of State for Railways.

Speaking at the inauguration of the newly-converted broad gauge section between Karaikudi and Manamadurai here on Wednesday, he said at the end of five years in office, the State would have got schemes worth Rs.5,332 crore. Various works to the tune of Rs.1,332 crore were being undertaken.

Mr. Velu said Bihar and Tamil Nadu had got special attention, as both States were neglected for several years. All sections of broad gauge were either completed or on the verge of completion. There would not be any metre gauge section in the State in the next two years.

Mr. Velu said the Madurai-Bodinaickanur section, which was almost abandoned for various reasons, would be brought under the broad gauge network.

Due to aggressive marketing and sincere attempts, the Indian Railways had earned profit of Rs.67,000 crore during the last four years. Chances were bright that the profit might touch Rs.1 lakh crore at the end of five years of UPA Government, he added.

Inaugurating the converted broad gauge section and flagging off train services on the route, Mr. Chidambaram said that it was because of cordial relationship between the Governments both at the State and Centre innumerable and important infrastructural projects were being taken up in the State.

If the unity continued further, several more projects could be taken up.

Mr. Chidambaram said one more train for the benefit of passengers of Sivaganga, Karaikudi and others would be operated between Rameswaram and Chennai.

Railway Minister would make announcement soon after consulting officials. Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, S. Regupathy, Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, K.R. Periakaruppan, and MPs, M.S.K. Bhavani Rajendran and E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, spoke.

Comment:
How much profit Bihar and Tamil Nadu gives to Indian railway? The railway infrastructure in Bihar and Tamil Nadu is much higher than profit making states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Railway ministers from Bihar and Tamil Nadu are LOTERE in the name of development.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Appeal to Sign the online Petition

Click here to sign the online petition

To: All

Sub:- Declare railway projects in multi-facet backward KBK and bordering regions in Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh as National Project in the Line of North Eastern States of India

To
The President of India
The Prime Minister of India

Copy to:
The Union Railway Minister
The Chief Minister of Orissa
The Chief Minister of Chhatisgarh
Planning Commission of India
Chairman, Indian Railway Board
Media

Dear honorable President and Prime minister of India,

Kalahandi-Balangir- Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa is a multi-facet backward region due to hilly backwardness, tribal populated backwardness and backward due to natural calamities.

Similar backward regions in India like North Eastern States have received special treatment by railway board where as KBK region has been neglected since decades. Even hilly region like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand have received special package in railway by Govt. of India. Unfortunately, KBK region where backwardness is multi-facet has not yet received similar treatment.

Naxal activities are predominantly high in the border between Orissa and Chhatisgarh/ Andhra Pradesh due to poor communication and infrastructure and recently it is spreading to other bordering and backward districts like Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts.

The railway infrastructure in Orissa and Chhatisgarh is substantially low compared to national average despite both the states are in the profit making zones, where as railway infrastructure in Bihar and West Bengal are remarkably high though they are in the loss making zones.

Ref: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/maps/all_india.htm

East Coast zone and South Eastern zone (under which Orisss state comes) and South East Central zone (under which Chhatisgarh state comes) of Indian railways are among top most profit making zones and large amount profit made by Indian railway comes from the royalty by transporting coal, metals, ores, and minerals which Orissa and Chhatisgarh substantially contribute, however, Indian railway has ignored Orissa, specially KBK region, since decades.

Ref: http://www.orissalinks.com/orissagrowth/archives/489

Politically, Indian railway was being always misused by railway ministry and development in the important backward but profit making states like Orissa and Chhatisgarh was being marginalized.

For example, Khordha road – Balangir and Lanjigarh road – Junagarh railway lines in Orissa which were approved much earlier than Muzaffarpur – Sitamari and Sultangang-Deogarh railway lines in Bihar are still struggling to be accomplished, but other two lines in Bihar are completed by now.

Ref: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/

During last 15 years, more railway lines were approved in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal (all of them comes under loss making zones) than Orissa and Chhatisgarh (both are in profit making zones). The lines accomplished in Orissa are solely due to mineral transportation for railway’s own interest unlike in those above states mentioned earlier.

In last 5 years Indian railway is establishing three railway plants in Bihar (loss making zone) and one in Kerala (another loss making zone), but none of the plants including the recently proposed power plant by Indian railway, was being established in Orissa or Chhatisgarh despite profit making zones and rich in coal. Such railway plant through Govt. initiative in multi-facet backward region like KBK is imminent for social development.

Since decades, funds allotted in the railway budgets to profit making zones like East Coast railway (ECOR) and South East Central railway (SECR) is lower/comparable as/to that of loss making zones like Eastern railway, North Eastern railway and Southern railway zones. The large amount of funds allotted to ECOR is towards mineral transportation and there was very little fund towards social need of the state.

We do not have any objection towards development of railway infrastructure in Bihar, West Bengal and any other states in India rather would like to see their well being, but we are totally against the marginalization of Indian railway towards backward state and region like Orissa, Chhatisgarh and KBK.

We propose Orissa and Chhatisgarh State Governments to give land free of cost for railway development in the backward region and Central Government of India to declare all the railway projects in KBK and bordering regions in Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh as national projects in the line of North Eastern states of India as soon as possible, and

(i) Accomplish immediately Khordha road – Balangir railway line to connect the KBK region with state capital

(ii) Approve Junagarh – Ambagura line proposed under extension of Lanjigarh road – Junagarh line

(iii) Approve Bargarh – Padampur - Nuapada road - Kantabanji – Khariar- Ampani-Navarangur- Jeypore – Makangiri – Kottagudem (Andhra Pradesh) new line in the backward region, which would help to monitor naxal acitivities by bringing development in the region

(iv) Carry out new survey and approve Rajim (Chhatisgarh) – Gariaband (Chhatisgarh) – Deobhog (Chhatisgahr) – Junagarh – Lanjigarh road – Simanbadi (Kandhamal) – Asika- Berhampur – Gopalpur line to directly connect Raipur with Gopalpur port passing through one of the most backward regions of India.

(v) Carry out new survey and approve Dhamtari (Chhatisgarh) – Umarrkote (Orissa) – Nabrangpur (Orissa) line, an alternative direct access to Gopalpur and Visakhapatnam ports from Raipur and other mining region in Chhatisgarh.

(vi) Carry out new survey and approve Simanbadi -Phulbani-Angul line to benefit NALCO by further reducing the distance between Damanjodi (Asia’s largest Alumina plant) and Angul and passing through tribal backward region.

Thank you and best regards

Click here to sign the online petition

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Railway to set up global training centre

Press Trust of India, June 18, 2008

New Delhi, Jun 18 (PTI) Gearing up to train railway managers for future challenges, Indian Railways will set up an international management institute here.
The institute would provide a kind of rail sector MBA in the country.

The International Railway Strategic Management Institute (IRSMI) will come up in collaboration with the International Union of Railways (UIC) on 30,000 sq metre land in Chanakyapuri here.

"We have sanctioned Rs 22 crore for the construction of the state-of-the-art building and an architect would be selected soon to design it," said a senior Railways Ministry official.

The training modules would be prepared in consultation with the leading global business schools including HEC Paris and also with the UIC.

"The training facility would be extended to all UIC member countries. The fee structure for different training modules, workshops and seminar on specific areas would be finalised after the completion of the building," said the official.

The setting up of the IRSMI was approved by the UIC which felt there was a need for an international railway management institute exclusively for rail sector management. PTI

Rlys defensive on Khurda-Balangir project

The Pioneer, June 19, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

In the wake of threats by the BJD and some other parties to launch an agitation against the delay in the construction of Khurda Road-Balangir railway project, East Coast Railway (ECoR) soueces on Wednesday claimed that the project was "on the path of progress."

But at the same time, ECoR seemed to be on the defensive on the issue as it laid a condition for the State Government's financial contribution to ensure progress of the project work. An ECoR release stated, "It may also be mentioned that for such social-oriented projects, the financial participation by the State Government and other agencies would also act as a catalyst in speeding up the completion of the project in less time."

An ECoR release said the project, which has been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 700 crore, is poised for continued progress. Phase-I of the project for 36 km has been sanctioned by the Railway Ministry at a cost of Rs 69.98 crore.

The East Coast Railway Construction Organisation has almost completed the land acquisition and earthwork for phase-I of the project. Some bridges have also been completed in this portion. In the rest of the section, the land acquisition work has already been taken up in Khurda, Nayagarh and Balangir districts, the release said.

This year (2008-09), funds of Rs 32 crore have been allotted for various works, which are in progress in the project.

The detailed estimate of phase-II of the project is also under consideration of the Railway Board, the release said.

The release further stated, "It is also likely that more funds may be allotted to this project if the problems of land acquisition, forestry clearance and law and order do not hamper the progress and pace of work."