The creation of a separate mini-railway zone with its headquarters at Bhubaneswar and the inclusion of Waltair Division in it with effect from April 1, 2003, had dealt a strong blow to the people of north coastal Andhra, said Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao.
Addressing a media conference here on Friday, he said that Waltair Division which had crossed the Rs.5,000 crore mark in revenue earnings was being treated as a ‘milch cow’ by East Coast Railway (E Co R) to undertake development in Odisha while ignoring the needs of Visakhapatnam and other stations located in Andhra region.
Mr. Rao said that E Co R authorities were resorting to various types of unjust practices by diverting both resources and facilities to Odisha.
Important trains such as Visakha and Prasanthi Express were extended to Bhubaneswar causing inconvenience to the people of Visakhapatnam region while ignoring the plea of passengers from Visakhapatnam region for extension of trains like Neelachal Express to Visakhapatnam.
This was an indication of their bias towards Odisha.
He said that the problems were brought to the notice of the region’s MPs and MLAs time and again but they had only made symbolic and half-hearted attempts. He recalled that Union Minister D. Purandeswari, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Visakhapatnam Parliamentary constituency, had stated after her victory in 2009 that a ‘separate railway zone for Visakhapatnam is on top of the agenda’ but failed to achieve it, though the 2014 general elections were approaching.
Union Minister flayed
He observed Ms. Purandeswari had gone to the extent of saying that she would pitch a tent in front of the house of the Railway Minister to reiterate the demand of the locals for sanction of a railway zone with headquarters in the city. She had subsequently changed tack and said that she would strive for merger of Waltair Division in South Central Railway.
He recalled that Praja Spandana had opposed the merger in SCR as it was like ‘jumping from the frying pan into the fire’.
Mr. Rao said that the single point demand of the people was creation of a separate zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters and felt that it was a viable solution to correct the economic imbalances in the region.