Visakhapatnam

Decision on railway zone sparks debate over fallout

Proposal to wind up the iconic Waltair division draws flak

Even as the formation of the announced South Coast Zone (SCoR) may take 11 months due to various factors, the possible implication has become a subject of heated discussion among the investors.

The SCoR formation was announced 48 hours before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Visakhapatnam. A separate railway zone for the State was a long-pending demand but its announcement by merging parts of the 125-year-old Waltair division with the Vijayawada division and newly formed Rayagada division has opened a Pandora’s Box.

Waltair dvision during the 2017-18 fiscal recorded a freight loading of 56.54 million tonne with revenue of ₹6,515.25 crore.

The passenger volume was 35.06 million tonne, generating a revenue of ₹536.43 crore.

Now, the new zone will have Vijawawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions while South Central Railway, which will lose the three divisions, will have to be content with only Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions. The East Coast Railway will have Khurda, Sambalpur and Rayagada divisions.

Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and Industryexpressed its shock over decision to wind up the Waltair division, which at one point of time played a key role in the development of Visakhapatnam Port Trust leading to transformation of a fishermen town into a growing metropolis.

“The demand for a railway zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters arose as the division was neglected first under South Eastern Railways and later under East Coast Railway, though it being is a major revenue churner,” former president of the chamber A.V. Monish Row said.

The taking away of Koraput-Rayagada and Kothavalasa-Kirandul sections, which are known to be attracting lot of freight traffic, from the zone is also considered as not ‘Visakhapatnam-friendly’ decision by many.

Jobs & revenue

“We want the zone to bring more jobs and revenue. We should have RRB to provide more jobs to locals and retaining of Waltair division,” said an industrialist seeking anonymity.

On the other hand, AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation president G. Sambasiva Rao said the zone would ensure faster decision-making in rake supply for quick evacuation of cargo and introduction of trains and better maintenance of coaches.

Santosh Patnaik

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:47:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/decision-on-railway-zone-sparks-debate-over-fallout/article26490443.ece

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