Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Online move for rail network

Tathya.in, July 7, 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.

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