Shyamhari Chakra

KEONJHAR: BJP Member of Parliament from Keonjhar, Ananta Nayak, has threatened to stop movement of the goods trains from November 14 if the passenger train between Keonjhar and Puri promised by the Railways authorities does not run by then.

“Despite my consistent appeals to the Ministry of Railways, things are moving at a snail’s pace. First the deadline was set to August 15 last year. Then the officials extended it to October 2. Later it was announced that the train would run from Keonjhar to Puri on the Rath Yatra day this year. The wait has been frustrating,” regretted the MP. In October last year, ruling coalition partner BJP had clamped an economic blockade in the district to press for reconstruction of the National Highway-215 that runs through the district and launching of the railway service for the public. The agitation was withdrawn following assurances from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, reminded the local legislator Mohan Charan Majhi, Deputy Chief Whip of the Government, who is camping here to lead his party’s proposed agitation.

East Coast Railways gains an annual profit of nearly Rs.600 crores through its goods train service on this route and yet it does not care to provide the passenger train service to the district, he added.

“During the past one year, at least four high-level officials of the Railway Ministry and Railway Safety Commission have inspected the tracks spread over 175 kilometres including 17 stations en route and have made favourable remarks during discussions with us. Each time I enquire with the Ministry, I am being told that the Commission’s clearance is awaited. But how long can the people wait ?” wondered the MP.

Since the condition of the NH-215 is deplorable, passenger train service would provide relief to nearly two-third of the district’s population, informed Majhi.