New train between Gandhidham and Puri doesn’t touch AP

Three decades of struggle by Telugus, settled in Kutch district of Gujarat, has led to the introduction of a direct train from Gandhidham to Puri. The train traverses Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh (Raipur) and Odisha without touching Andhra Pradesh.

The Railways’ administration has ‘rubbed salt into the wounds of Telugus’ by introducing a direct train from Gandhidham to Puri in November 2011.

“Telugus are the single largest group in Kutch district after Gujaratis. Our people have migrated to Kutch for employment at the Kandla Port during 1960s. They had settled there and visit their native places during festivals and other occasions,” Kutch Andhra Abhudaya Seva Samaj (KASS) president B. Srinivas told The Hindu over the phone on Wednesday.

“The Telugus mainly belong to Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari and Krishna districts. In the absence of a direct train, we are forced to change trains and finding it difficult to get reserved accommodation. Senior citizens and women are finding it all the more difficult in changing trains and working class people are finding it a pinch on their pocket due to additional expenditure involved,” he says.

The Samaj representatives had approached the successive Railway Ministers Bangaru Laxman, Bandaru Dattatreya, Narain Bhai Rathwa, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mukul Roy, Bharat Sinh Solanki, Muniyappa and Pawan Kumar Bansal in Delhi during the last 15 years and recently met Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy seeking a direct train to Andhra Pradesh.

“About 1,500 tickets are being sold from Bhuj, Gandhidham, Bhachau and Samakhaiyali Railway Stations to various destinations in Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada route).

This represents only a fraction of the people travelling to the State as those who are unable to get reservation are travelling to Ahmedabad or Mumbai and travelling to destinations in the State, says Mr. Srinivas.

The Gandhidham – Puri Superfast Weekly Express has been completely booked for the next 89 days, which indicates the high demand on this route, he says. The train can be extended to Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada.

There are nine States which already have direct trains from Gandhidham or Bhuj (Kutch district). Peoples’ Representatives from the State should take a cue from their counterparts and fight for the just demands of the people.

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