Union Minister Purandeswari takes up issue with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee
State pursuing merger issue with the Centre for long
‘Move will help businessmen, industries from Vizag’
HYDERABAD: Two decades of agitations by the people of North Coastal Andhra seeking merger of Waltair Division in East Coast Railway into South Central Railway have finally received a boost with the government preparing an alternative proposal to strengthen the cause.
The State government has been pursuing the issue with the Centre and the Railway Board for long. Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development D. Purandeswari sent several reminders but to no avail. Ms. Purandeswari, however, brought the issue to the fore yet again during her meeting with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Minister of State for Railways K. H. Muniyappa recently.
As part of the proposal, the State suggested transfer of Nanded Division (SCR) to Central Railway fulfilling the long pending demand from the people of Marathwada.
Further, consequent on merger of Waltair Division in SCR, Khurda Division (ECR) could be split into two. The ECR at present has three divisions -- Sambhalpur, Khurda and Waltair.
Khurda Division presently handles freight traffic of 52 million tonnes that is likely to touch 100 MTs in the next five to six years owing to number of upcoming large steel plants like Arcelor Mittal, Possco and British Mining.
In the event of resistance to splitting of Khurda Division, the State government proposed creation of a new division with Rayagada as it headquarters. Koraput-Rayagada, Rayagada-Naupada, Rayagada-Vizianagaram, Bobbili-Salur, Naupada-Palasa and Singapuram Road-Titlagarh routes could be brought under the new division.
Talking to The Hindu, Ms. Purandeswari said the three proposals would help in meeting the demand of businessmen, Chamber of Commerce and Industry from the Port city.
“Under the South Eastern Railways and the ECR regime, improving passenger amenities, development of stations, new terminals, introduction of new trains and related aspects in Waltair division have been highly deplorable,” she said.
The Union Minister said the biggest grievance was extension of Visakhapatnam Express and Prashanti Express up to Bhubaneswar and diversion of Nizamuddin Express to Sambhalpur.
She complained that more than 25,000 Telugu speaking staff working in Waltair Division were discriminated in promotions and transfers. Merger would integrate operation of trains both passenger and freight.
“It will require political will and determination to achieve the objective. Re-jurisdiction and formation of new divisions have always been political decisions,” official sources said.