Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Projects in 2 Lalu constituencies to be put on fast track

Times of India, Feb 5, 2009

NEW DELHI: Anxious to appease his constituents before the model code of conduct forbidding sops kicks in, railway minister Lalu Prasad has got the
government to agree to a change in the mode of execution of projects to manufacture electric and diesel locomotives — putting two factories in home state Bihar on the fast track.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday is scheduled to take up a proposal to switch the character of the projects to manufacture electric and diesel from public private partnership (PPP) schemes to joint ventures involving the railway ministry.

The change is designed to help speed up the projects coming up, at an estimated cost of Rs 2,800 crore, in Chhapra and Madhepura. Lalu contested and won from both constituencies in 2004 and the decision to locate two high-value projects, announced in 2007, were seen as a thanksgiving gesture to the electorate.

A greenfield high horsepower electric locomotive factory will be set up at Madhepura, while Marhowra in Chhapra, from where the RJD strongman in all probability will seek re-election, will be the site of a diesel locomotive plant.

Top government sources pointed out that the railway ministry has framed a new proposal suggesting that the project will be a joint venture between Indian Railways and a private firm, and not a public-private partnership (PPP) project as originally conceived.

The joint venture option, which is likely to have majority stake of railways, will cut the project's time table as it will require just a clearance from Lalu's ministry. In contrast, the PPP mode will have to be vetted from an inter-ministerial committee, including Planning Commission and finance ministry consuming more time.

Lalu has made few bones of his uneasiness with the objections raised and clarifications sought by the plan panel and the finance ministry as they check proposals for their financial viability.

On Thursday, the railway minister lodged a strong protest against the ``obstructionist'' ways of the plan panel and bureaucracy in the meeting he had with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The move comes against the backdrop of difficulties railway ministry had faced in putting projects, cleared in 2007, on the implementation track. The approaching polls, clearly, added to the sense of urgency.

Sources pointed out that according to the new proposal, to be discussed by Cabinet, the transaction with the private company will be a procurement and a maintenance contract executed between the ministry and the joint venture.

The railway ministry has said the contract for procurement will last for eight years and the locomotives will have to be delivered by the supplier over eight years.

The contract for procurement of locomotives will also include their maintenance for up to 20 years. Every year, the joint venture will be expected to deliver a specific number of locomotives, said an official.

Develop rail network in kandhamal

Expressbuzz, Feb 4, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Agami Odisha and several organisations staged a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the East Coast Railway here today demanding development of railway network in Kandhamal and other backward regions of the State.

In a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the organisations maintained that Kandhamal and Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) regions are most backward areas of the country.

Similar backward areas in the country like the north-eastern states have received special treatment from the Railway Board but the KBK region has been neglected for decades, the memorandum alleged and demanded a special package for the region.

Alleging step-motherly attitude of the Railways towards the State, the memorandum maintained that Khurda Road- Balangir and Lanjigarh Road- Junagarh railway lines in Orissa were approved much earlier than Muzaffarpur-Sitamarhi and Sultanganj-Deogarh railway lines in Bihar, but only 10 per cent work has been completed.

But both the projects in Bihar have been completed.

During last 15 years more lines were approved in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal than in Orissa, it alleged and demanded that a Kandhamal rail link should be sanctioned.

Former MP and CPM leader Shivaji Patnaik participated in the demonstration.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Agami Odisha demands rail link to Kandhamal

The Pioneer, Fab 4, 2009
PNS | Bhubaneswar

Demanding completion of all the ongoing Railway Projects in the State and sanction of rail link to Kandhamal district, a dharna-cum-meeting was organised by the Agami Odisha, Swabhiman Odisha Manch, Loksamukha, Focus Orissa and Khurda-Balangir Rail Line Kriyanusthan Committee at the East Coast Railway office here on Tuesday.

A delegation of five members led by working president of the Agami Odisha Er Lalit Mohan Pattnaik submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through Chief Engineer of the ECoR Rail Project. The Chief Engineer assured to take immediately steps to meet their demands.

Their demands included sanction of rail link to Kandhamal and connection of railways between Khurda Road-Balangir, Naupada-Gunupur-Therubali, Lanjigarh Road-Bhawanipatna-Junagarh-Nabrangpur-Jeypore-Malkangiri, Talcher-Bimlagarh, Bangiriposi-Gurumahisasini and Buramara-Chakulia during the 11th plan period. Moreover, they also demanded conversion of the Coach Repair Factory at Mancheswar here to a Coach Manufacturing Factory, sanction of a coach factory in KBK districts, declaration of Rourkela and Rayagada as divisions, all mineral reservoirs in the State should be included in ECOR, establishment of a zonal Railway Hospital here and appointment of supervisors and below workers from the State.

They alleged that backward regions of the country like North Eastern States are receiving special treatment by railway board, whereas the similar backward KBK region is being neglected since decades. The railway infrastructure of the State is substantially low compared to the national average, though the Railway is making huge profits from the State. During last 15 years, more lines were approved to Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, though these places come under loss making zones.

Former MP Sivaji Pattnaik, CPI Assistant Secretary Asish Kanungo, Bichitra Badajena from Utkal Sammilani, Manoj Jena from the Binoba Seva Pratisthan and Madhu Bai from National Youth Project, along with representatives from all districts raised their voices against the step-motherly attitude of the Railway Board towards the State.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lalu to gift railway division to home district

Times of India, Feb 1, 2009

PATNA: Railways minister Lalu Prasad is set to gift his home district, Gopalganj in Bihar, a railway division before the next Lok Sabha polls.

After Lalu Prasad's ancestral village Phulwaria is connected with his wife and former chief minister Rabri Devi's Salar Kalan village, Lalu now plans to give another rare gift to Bihar by announcing the establishment of a railway division in Thawe at Gopalganj.

"Thawe would have a new railway division," Lalu said Saturday. He was on a visit to his native village Phulwaria and hinted that he would announce the establishment of the division in his last railway budget to be presented later in February.

According to railway officials, Lalu asked senior officials to prepare necessary ground for creation of a new railway division at Thawe in Gopalganj.

Thawe has a railway station at present and is not far from Lalu's birth place Phulwaria and his wife's birthplace Salar Kalan.

Thawe railway division will be part of the East Central Railway zone headquarters at Hajipur in Bihar.

Lalu also announced establishing of a new railway division in Bhagalpur. "Both Thawe and Bhagalpur would be headed by divisional railway managers."

During his five year term as a Railways Minister, Lalu has gifted several projects and dozens of new trains to Bihar. He recently said that the Indian Railways are investing Rs.550 billion (Rs.55,000 crore) in Bihar for execution of various railway projects to usher "a new era of development".

Orissa's KBK: Forgotten by all

Merinews, Feb 1, 2009

Kalahandi Balangir Koraput in Orissa is a backward region in all aspects and need special aid from the Union Government. However, the region is being ignored by all major players for industrial and agricultural developments.

KALAHANDI BALANGIR Koraput (KBK) region in Orissa is a multi-facet backward region due to hilly terrain, tribal population and natural calamities.

Thankfully, KBK region is considered along with special category states by Union Government of India when it comes to irrigation project. However, infrastructure development is the key to the success for such a backward region. Unfortunately, in railway development KBK is being neglected severely and has not yet been considered by Prime Minister of India to give special status along with special category states.
It is clearly evident from struggling ongoing projects since decades in KBK region such as Lanjigarh road – Junagarh and Balangir – Khordha road lines.

In last couple of years, Indian Railway has committed 50,000 crore investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects, whereas Orissa, especially KBK, is being continuously neglected since decades by Indian Railway.

On the other hand, national politicians have often used backwardness of Kalahandi to show case their eagerness towards the poor people in the society though they fail to scrutinise high rate of unemployment among semi-skilled and skilled laborer in the region.

Lanjigarh road is located in the border of Kandhamal, Rayagada and Kalahandi. A factory based on engineering in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna will enormously benefit Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur and Malkangiri equally, as it is centrally located to all the districts.

Similarly, a new East Coast railway division in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna will help to speed up the railway projects in Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur and Malkangiri districts many of which are poorly connected by Indian railway.

I urge the government to specially consider railway project in -

KBK region as national project

Accomplish Lanjigarh road – Jungarh line completely in coming financial year
Complete Khordha road – Balangir line in 11th plan
Immediately approve Lanjigarh road – Phulbani – Angul line
Approve Junagarh – Nabarangpur – Jeypur – Malkangiri – Balachandar road line
Approve Kantabanji – Khariar – Dharamgarh – Ampani – Nabarangpur – Jeypur line
Establish a coach factory in Bhawanipatna/Lanjigarh road/Junagarh region
Establish a new East Coast railway division in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna for railway development especially in KBK-Kandhamal-Boudh region.

NRI seeks rail infrastructure in Orissa’s backward region, Jan 31, 2009
January 31st, 2009 - 4:05 pm ICT by IANS - Send to a friend:

Bhubaneswar, Jan 31 (IANS) An Oriya NRI based in Lebanon has urged the government to develop railway infrastructure in Orissa’s most backward districts to ensure the economic prosperity of the region.The Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region, known for its economic backwardness, has been neglected by the central government for years, Digambara Patra, an Oriya academic based in Beirut, told IANS in an email.

Patra said he had Friday written letters to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stressing the need for developing a railway network in the region.

“Railway infrastructure development is one of the keys to success and can bring economic prosperity to such a backward region,” Patra, who works as an assistant professor at the department of chemistry in the American University in Beirut, wrote in the email.

“Unfortunately, in railway development, the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region is being neglected…In the last couple of years, Indian Railways has committed Rs.50,000 crore (Rs.500 billion) investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects, but it has neglected Orissa, especially the KBK areas,” Patra said.

He pointed out that the central government had in the past has established a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) project in Sunabeda, Koraput and an ordinance factory in Balangir and both had increased the employment potential in the regions. But the neighbouring Kalahandi region has not been considered for any major industrial project, Patra said.

He added that “setting up a new East Coast railway division in the region would help speed up railway projects in the impoverished western and southern Orissa, which are poorly connected by railways”.