Locals say separate railway zone is the only solution
The Railway Ministry and the Railway Board will be doing no great favour to Visakhapatnam by establishing a Wagon Repair Shop (WRS). In fact, they will only be undoing the injustice done to the city about four decades ago by shifting the WRS to Mancheswar, near Bhubaneswar.
A Wagon Repair Shop (WRS) existed at Gnanapuram on the other side of the Railway Station around 40 years ago.
It was undertaking repair of railway wagons though it was under private control, recalls K. Ramachandra Murthy, a former trade union leader, who is now an advisor to the Samaikhyandhra Political JAC.
After the WRS was shifted to Mancheswar, it was under private control for sometime before it was taken over by the Railways, he says.
The Railway Board has recently sought a proposal from the field officials in Visakhapatnam for the setting up of a WRS at an estimated cost of Rs.250 crore. The proposal brought some cheer to people of the region but the ‘silence’ of the Railway Ministry and the Board in giving the green signal to the proposal, even receiving it through proper channel, has raised doubts in the minds of the people about the ‘real intentions’ of the Board.
Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari, who represents Visakhapatnam in the Lok Sabha, shot off letters to the Railway Minister and Board Chairman expressing concern at the ‘hesitation’ on the part of the Railways.
She noted that Visakhapatnam was the most suitable place for establishment of WRS in view of its strategic location and sought urgent steps for laying of the foundation stone for construction of WRS.
“Waltair Division, which had enjoyed the status of a railway zone for over three decades during the construction of the DBK Project, has been marginalised with its infrastructure and revenue diverted to develop new railway lines and infrastructure at Puri and Bhubaneswar, despite inadequate returns and poor patronage,” says R. Rama Rao, a retired railway trade union leader and Senior Citizen Forum leader of Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika (URV).
“There can be no end to the saga of injustice to Waltair Division until it is de-linked from East Coast Railway and a new zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters is formed. The new zone can be formed by merging Waltair, Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions without the need for any additional financial commitment on the part of the government,” he says.