Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday urged Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to allocate a sizable amount of Railway Budget 2016-17 for strengthening and expanding rail infrastructure in the state. In a letter to Prabhu, Patnaik said the railway route length and rail density in Odisha is very much below than national average as also substantially lower than that in neighboring states.
"In contrast, gross earnings from various stations in the state of Odisha is estimated to be in excess of Rs.14,000 crore during the year 2014-15," he said. Noting Odisha continues to be one of the most preferred destinations for investment especially in metal, mining and power sectors, he said the nature of industrial activities in the state requires a robust and well planned railway infrastructure for its sustainability. He said his government would extend all help for implementation of railway projects in the state, adding the state has already signed the state specific umbrella MoU with the railway ministry for setting up a JV company for taking up new rail projects in the state with cost sharing of 51 percent by the state government and 49 percent by Indian Railways. Though the MoU has been signed over 3 months back, the formation of company is awaiting cabinet clearance, he said, requesting this be expedited so that the new projects in the state then can be taken up through the defined route envisaged in the MoU. He said the other MoU that was signed between Coal India, Indian Railway and Odisha government for creating rail infrastructure to evacuate coal deposits of the state has been operationalised by forming a SPV company. Informing that the state has attracted Rs.8,85,000 crores in diverse sectors and a comprehensive plan has been prepared for developing deep water sea ports along its coast, he urged to extend the eastern dedicated freight corridor from Dankuni to Berhampur to ensure seamless movement of freight between the upcoming ports including the major port at Paradip. He also requested to introduce some express trains and set up new divisional headquarters at Rayagada, Jajpur-Keonjhar road and Rourkela by extending the jurisdiction of East Coast Railway.