Staff Reporter

Citizens forums send memorandum to Mamata Banerjee

BHUBANESWAR: Intellectuals, social activists and former bureaucrats here on Tuesday demanded fund allocation of at least 7 per cent of total Rs. 2,51,000 crore proposed for country’s railway development during the 11th five-year plan to the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway.

Participating in a meeting ‘Odisha Round Table on Railways,’ by Odisha Nagarik Samaj (ONS) and Agami Odisha, citizen forums, ahead of Union Railway Budget, speakers said that since ECoR was contributing 7 per cent of revenue and 10 per cent of profit of Indian railway, Orissa has right of yearly budget share of around Rs. 3514 crore during the 11th plan.

In a memorandum addressed to Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, these citizen forums said Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) region, which was one of the most backward areas of the country, was continuously neglected.

“The railway infrastructure in Orissa and Chhattisgarh is substantially low compared to national average despite both the States are in the profit making zones, whereas railway infrastructure in Bihar and West Bengal are remarkably high though they are in loss-making zones,” they alleged.

New railway lines

These forums demanded at least six railway lines including Khurda-Bolangir, Gunupur-Theruvali, Lanjigarh-Bhadrachalam Road in Andhra Pradesh, Talcher-Bimlagarh, Bangriposhi-Chakulia and Badampahar-Keonjhar should be given priority during the plan period.

“We do not have any objection towards development of railway infrastructure in Bihar, West Bengal and any other states in India rather would like to see their well-being, but we are totally against marginalisation of Indian Railway towards backward State and region like KBK of Orissa and Chhattisgarh,” said Lalit Patnaik of ONS.

“We propose Orissa and Chhattisgarh governments to give land free of cost for railway development in the backward region and Union government to declare all the railway projects in KBK and bordering regions in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh as national projects in the line of north-eastern States as soon as possible,” he said.