The railway project will connect coastal Odisha with western districts

Naveen Patnaik government on Friday announced to provide land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of project cost for laying Khurda-Bolangir railway track, which was first announced two decades ago in 1994-95.

The railway project, which would connect coastal Odisha with western districts, has remained an important political issue with successive State governments often accusing the centre of neglecting the project.

In an apparent move to woo voters of western Odisha ahead of both the Assembly and the general elections, the government decided to make required land available to the Union Ministry of Railways. A decision in this regard was approved by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday.

Besides, the Chief Minister’s Office issuing a statement hoped the decision of bearing 50 per cent of project cost would give much needed push to the project.

It said the State government had been drawing attention of the Centre for timely completion of the project, but low budgetary allocation in Railway Budget for the project had slowed down the pace of execution. It needs to be mentioned that the Union Railway Ministry had slashed Rs. 2 crore from original budget grant for the Khurda-Bolangir railway project during this financial year.

Of 289-km railway track, the distance between Khurda Road and Daspalla is 112 km, of which it is expected that work along 52 km would be completed in 2013-14.

“The project carries huge importance from the point of view of socio-economic development. The process of development would get boost in Bolangir, Boudh, Nayagarh and Sonepur upon completion of the project,” the government.

As per decision, the State government will bear 50 per cent of construction cost for laying railway track along 177 km between Bolangir and Daspalla.

The land required for this section would be provided free of cost. The Union government had already been intimated about the decision of the Odisha government, said the CMO.

It claimed that Khurda-Bolangir railway was Odisha’s biggest railway project and Odisha was first State in the country to provide free land and part-finance any railway project.