Koraput: The rail budget has evoked mixed reactions from residents of Maoist-hit Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts of south Orissa.
While sanctioning of Jeypore-Malkangiri and Jeypore-Nabarangpur rail line projects are hailed, people are dejected as neither any new train has been announced from Koraput to Bhubaneswar nor any existing train extended to the area.
“Connecting Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts with rail line has been a long-standing demand of the people of this area and finally the twin projects have been sanctioned in the Rail Budget and we are happy for it,” said BJD’s Nabarangpur MP Balabhadra Majhi.
While the estimated cost of construction of 130 km Jeypore-Malkangiri railway line has been estimated at Rs 1,277 crore, construction of the 38 km Jeypore-Nabarangpur railway line costs Rs 485 crore.
“We hope the preliminary work for the twin projects will start soon. Once the two districts figure in the railway map of the county, it will boost the tribal-economy of the region, apart from easing the transportation problem of locals,” Majhi said.
“However, no train has been allotted for Koraput which lies over 500 km away from Bhubaneswar. No existing train was also extended to the district for the benefit of the people here,” said Jeypore’s Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
Extension of Koraput-Sambalpur passenger train up to Bhubaneswar and extension of Koraput-Rourkela Express up to Jeypore is a long-standing demand of the local people.
Hirakhand Express, the only train that runs between Bhubaneswar-Jagdalpur via Koraput, remains overcrowded always.
Meanwhile, people of southern Orissa districts, particularly Ganjam, felt disappointed as several long standing demands of the region were ignored.
The demands included a railway terminal at Berhampur, direct trains from Berhampur to New Delhi and Puri and construction of a new railway line from Gopalpur to Rayagada and start of work on the proposed railway wagon factory at Sitalapalli near here.
However, Prabhu has announced construction of new railway line from Berhampur to Sambalpur.
“We expected more for this region in the budget. We hoped that the railway minister would sanction funds for construction of Gopalpur-Rayagada railway line,” said former Union minister and senior Congress leader Chandra Sekhar Sahu.
He said the feasibility report of the proposed rail line has already been prepared. The report lies with the Railway Board.
BJP leader and former Assembly deputy speaker Rama Chandra Panda, however, hailed the announcement of new railway line from Berhampur to Sambalpur.