Non-resident Odia (NRO) Prof Digambara Patra has urged the CM of Odisha to take up the pending Junagarh Road-Nabarangpur rail line project with priority. The project is pending for 8 years to get budgetary approval.
Note that in 1962-63 late Kalahandi MP Pratap Keshari Deo had pointed out in the Parliament that Parkers had done a railway line survey from Kesinga to Nabarangpur to join Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line, because Koraput-Kothavalasa and Koraput-Rayagada are e-special category railway routes having many tunnels and high-level bridges; the speed is limited (often less than 50 kmph) and number of wagon can’t exceed 30 during mineral transportations in these two routes.
The idea was Amabgura-Lanjigarh road railway line would make mineral transportation from Kirandul to Visakhapatnam faster and easier.
Realising this in 1991, Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh line was approved to connect with KK line at Ambagura via Nabarangpur. 56 km of Lanjigarh road-Junagarh line rail line took 25 years to get completed, however, survey of Junagarh-Ambaguda portion of this route was completed late, 8 years ago.
The route has a rate of return (RoR) above 14 per cent, far better than loss making Nabarangpur-Jeypore or Jeypore-Malkangiri route. For practical purpose, Nabrangpur-Junagarh Rd rail connection would give better solution to people of Nabaragpur district as for many practical purposes people in Nabarangpur prefer Junagarh Rd/Kesinga stations to reach out western Odisha and major cities in India to save time.
It is also not clear why the State Government preferred to share cost for loss making Jeypore-Nabarangpur rail line instead of profit making Junagarh-Nabarangpur rail line to provide rail connectivity to Nabarangpur district, he maintained.
As per initial Railway’s proposal, Junagarh Rd-Amagura was supposed to be extension of Lanjigarh Rd-Junagarh Rd rail line; therefore, the extension work should have started as soon as Lanjigarh Rd-Junagarh Rd rail line was completed. Unfortunately, it did not happen and the State Government put budgetary pressure for Khordha -Balangir line ignoring interest of the project. Further, the NDA Government in 2014 made a policy to complete ongoing projects before starting new one and this line was further sabotaged, he said.
Currently, the Railways and Odisha Government have put Junagarh Rd-Nabrangpur line under capital investment plan through ORIDL; nevertheless, the process is taking long time and moving at a snails’ space. It is also not logical why people in Nayagarh, Boudh, Malakangiri, Nabrangapur etc. will not pay charges for facilities whereas people of Kalahandi and Nabarangpur under Junagarh Rd-Nabarangpur line have to pay charges under CIP/ORIDL, Patra told.
Unless the State Government is positively involved in pressurizing the process, it will take another 10 years to get final approval as already 2-3 years have passed without any tender. Repeated survey and procedural delay by Railways, , State Government and ORIDL are the main cause of the delay, he said.
Patra sought urgent action from the CM to take the matter to speed up construction of the line.