Seeking sizeable allocation in next Railway budget for development of rail infrastructure in Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday demanded National Project status for at least two new rail lines and a dedicated freight corridor.
"I would also like to urge you to advise Ministry of Railways for strengthening of rail project execution infrastructure in the state with adequate deployment of officials and staff for time bound implementation of the projects," Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Stating that a large part of Odisha especially the backward regions remained untouched by railways, he said lack of infrastructure has been one of the major reasons which has impeded the socio-economic growth of this region.
"As you must be aware, these areas are also seriously affected by Left wing extremism. I believe that delivering rail services in the Naxal affected regions is one of the best means to channelise development therein and provide counter active force. Many of the present industrial clusters have attained a stage of saturation in terms availability of land, water and environmental concerns," he said.
In this context, Patnaik said the construction of Bhadrachalam Road-Talcher rail link via Malkangiri, Jeypore, Lanjigarh, Sambalpur-Brahmapur new rail link via Phulbani and Rayagada Gopalpur rail link via Bhismagiri assumes importance.
"Surveys for these lines have been sanctioned and I would request you to advise Ministry of Railways to execute these projects on a priority basis. These projects should be treated as ‘National Projects'," the Chief Minister said.
"In the first place Government of Odisha proposes dedicated rail corridors in Angul-Talcher Coal belt, Basundhara Coal belt in Jharsuguda—Sundargarh and Banspani-Nayagarh iron ore region," he said.
These corridors are proposed to be co-habited by multiple users and developed through participative funding. Railway may consider for setting up of SPV for these rail corridors, he suggested.
Drawing PM's attention to ongoing industrialisation in the state, Patnaik said Odisha has emerged as one of the most preferred destinations for investment especially in metal, mining and power sectors.
The state government is leveraging this opportunity to plan for orderly, systematic and comprehensive economic growth by focusing upon infrastructure development and creating dedicated industrial corridors, he said.
Noting that the nature of industrial activities in the State requires a robust and well planned rail infrastructure for its sustainability, Patnaik said the railway route length and rail density in Odisha is well below national average as also substantially lower than that in neighbouring states.
"In contrast, gross earnings originating from various stations in the state of Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs 14,000 crore during the year 2013-2014," the Chief Minister pointed out.
Patnaik said, "I would request you to kindly ensure allocation of a sizeable part of the revenues generated from Odisha within the state itself for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure."
In a bid to benefit the state from different projects like dedicated freight corridor aligned with mega industrial hubs, national road expressways and high speed train projects initiated by the Centre, Patnaik said, "It appears that the Centre completely bypassed the state of Odisha although some of the country's largest investments in the steel, aluminium and power sectors are coming up here."
The volume of investments in Odisha in diverse sectors at different stages is in excess of a staggering Rs 8,85,000 crores, he said, adding the state government have taken important steps to create greenfield ports that will be the country's gateway to international maritime trade for coastal shipping between the east and west coasts of India.
It is also expected that the growth in rail borne traffic will be in excess of 300 MMTPA in the next five years, Patnaik said requesting the Ministry of Railways to put in place a time-bound infrastructure upgradation arrangement for the ports coming up on the state's coastline.
A synchronised development plan between those of the ports and related rail connectivity is a necessity for maximising economic gains, he said.
"In this context, the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni should be extended to Brahmapur so as to ensure seamless movement of freight between the ports and the vast northern and central hinterlands of the country," he said.
The chief minister said the state is developing dedicated sector specific Industrial Investment regions with a focused approach on provisioning industrial infrastructure, in the Steel, Aluminum, Coal and Petrochemicals.
Keeping in view the constant demand to improve passenger amenities at major railway stations as well as in trains, Patnaik requested the Prime Minister to advise Railways to expedite execution of a world class station at Bhubaneswar and holy pilgrimage town of Puri.
"Odisha Government has agreed to share the cost of construction of an ultramodern station building at Bhubaneswar," he assured in the letter.