Rail users in the region are optimistic that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will allocate funds for the construction of the South Coast Railway (SCoR) Zonal Headquarters, a third line to Gopalapatnam, and additional platforms in the upcoming budget to be presented in Parliament on Wednesday.
It may be recalled that the proposed foundation stone ceremony for the construction of the SCoR Zonal headquarters at Wireless Colony (Railway Colony), by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his last visit to the city, was deferred. Though funds were sanctioned and the foundation stone was readied ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to the city, the programme was deferred at the eleventh hour. A day before the arrival of the Prime Minister, the Railway Ministry had sanctioned ₹106 crore for the construction of the SCoR Zonal Headquarters.
The railway land identified for construction of the zonal headquarters at Wireless Colony is a stone’s throw from the Visakhapatnam Railway Station. An alternative 42-acre plot was given to the Railways at Mudasarlova by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), in exchange for the land it had taken from the Railways in the past.
However, a small extent of this land is mired in a legal dispute, and the railway authorities hope that the GVMC and State government clear the hurdles and hand over the entire site to them. Railway authorities are likely to commence work at Wireless Colony if the entire land is not handed over to them by the end of this financial year.
The other projects, reportedly proposed by Waltair Division, include: development of satellite stations like Pendurthi and Simhachalam to ease congestion at the main station in the city, funds for redevelopment of Visakhapatnam Railway Station, construction of additional lines between Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram, construction of a third line between Vizianagaram-Palasa and Bhadrak and construction of a new line between Gunupur-Therubali and Jeypore–Malkangiri, for which a survey was completed. It is learnt that proposals have been sent for introduction of new a train between Visakhapatnam and Varanasi and regularisation of the special train between Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru.
The Visakhapatnam Railway Station’s redevelopment project work, for which the Prime Minister had laid the foundation during his last visit, is yet to begin. With the focus on station redevelopment and construction of additional platforms, the Marripalem Passenger Halt upgradation, which was proposed to be taken up at an estimated cost of ₹76 crore, and the third line to Gopalapatnam, for which a survey was completed, are likely to be put in cold storage, according to sources.