‘New zone can be formed by merging Waltair, Vijayawada and Guntur divisions’
Waltair Division, which had enjoyed the status of a railway zone for 35 years, 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 of trains, speakers at an interaction organised by the Uttarandhra Rakshana Vedika (URV) here on Friday said. URV president S.S. Shiva Shankar, Samaikhyandhra JAC leader A. Kishore and Senior Citizen’s Forum leader R. Rama Rao contended that delinking Waltair Division from East Coast Railway and formation of a new zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters was the only viable solution to end the ‘injustice’ being done to Waltair division and Visakhapatnam by ECoR.
They said both the MPs – D. Purandeswari and T. Subbarami Reddy – had failed to stop the ‘injustice’. The formation of new zone does not have anything to do with the railway budget and it was purely a ‘political decision’. The creation of ECoR in 2003, against the wishes and aspirations of the people of north Andhra, and the merger of Waltair division in it had led to its decline.
Prior to the formation of ECoR, a new division of Sambalpur was carved out of Waltair division taking away 400 route kilometres in 1989. The ECoR authorities had transferred the infrastructure, development and employment opportunities and part of the funds of Visakhapatnam Coaching Yard, Rs.160 crore RE Project funds, shifted the Construction Offices of CAO/CPM/CEE and FA & CAO to Bhubaneswar even as various works were in progress in Waltair division.
They said half-a-dozen trains continue to be diverted via Duvvada without touching Visakhapatnam, three pairs of express trains, which originated from Visakhapatnam, had been extended to Bhubaneswar and one passenger train from Vijayawada to Visakhapatnam has been extended to Rayagada, depriving Visakhapatnam of its quota of berths.
Mr. Rama Rao said a new zone could be formed by merging Waltair, Vijayawada and Guntur Divisions. He said Waltair Division alone was earning around Rs.5,000 crore, which was more than the revenue of Sambalpur and Khurda Division put together. The new zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters could be developed with the need for any additional funds from the government. He said merger of Waltair division in South Central Railway (SCR) was no solution and said that such a proposal should be opposed tooth and nail.