Odisha gets Rs 6,995 crore in Railway Budget for 2021-22
Bhubaneswar: With focus on early completion of ongoing projects as well as safety-related modernisation works, the Centre has allocated a total outlay of Rs 6,995.58 crore for Odisha in the 2021-22 Railway Budget, an official statement issued by East Coast Railway said. The fresh allocation is about 60 per cent more than the previous 2020-21 fiscal’s Railway budget outlay of Rs 4,373 crore. The funding for Odisha in 2021-22 under all plan heads combined is Rs 6,995.58 crore, it said.
The State Government had, however, presented a demand of Rs 7,200 crore for the Railway infrastructure in Odisha.
“The total budget outlay for development of infrastructure and safety related works for Odisha is Rs 5,528 crore for 2021-22, which does not include many other projects and estimates as they are not significant enough for mention at ministry level, but for ECoR and Odisha, these are important development works,” the statement said.
The allotment has been significant for projects to be completed in 2020-21, it said, adding that funding is to ensure that no progress is hindered for lack of funds. There has been a significant increase in outlay for passenger amenities, road safety works, in terms of Road Under Bridge and Over Bridges and Limited Height Subway (LHS).
While claiming that Narendra Modi Government has all along been cooperative towards Railway infrastructure development in Odisha, Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated Rs 1,000.50 crore for Khurda Road-Balangir project against the previous year’s allocation of Rs 520 crore. The fresh allocation is an increase of 92.4 per cent from the previous year’s outlay for this project, Pradhan said.
He urged the State Government to complete land acquisition for the project so that the allocated funds be utilised within 2021-22 fiscal. Pradhan said this Railway project will connect the coastal region with the western parts of the State.
Similarly, funding for railway line doubling projects, especially Bansapani-Daitari-Tomka-Jahkapura is Rs 228 crore against Rs 80 crore last year, which is an 185 per cent increase.
This apart, more allocations have been made for other projects like Brundamal-Jharsuguda fly over (Rs 20 crore against Rs 10 crore last year), Bhadrak-Nergundi 3rd Line (Rs 229 crore against Rs 102 crore last year), Budhapank-Salagaon (Rs 215 crore against Rs 205 crore last year), Rourkela-Jharsuguda 3rd line (Rs 230 crore as against Rs 170 crore, an increase of 35 per cent), Narayangarh-Bhadrak 3rd Line (Rs 225 crore as against Rs 50 crore, an increase of 350 per cent).
A quantum jump has been given to passenger amenities from Rs 129 crore to Rs 429 crore, the Railways said, adding that in order to eliminate level crossing of LC Gates, Rs 400 crore has been sanctioned as against Rs 324 crore last year.
State Transport and Commerce Minister Padmanabh Behera, however, termed the allocation made for the Railway sector in 2021-21 as “disappointing.” “There is no sanction for any new rail line. Our demand is not met. Practically, Odisha will get only Rs 4,500 crore, which is much less than our expectation,” Behera said.
Behera said the State had demanded Rs 7,200 crore of which Rs 3,500 crore was for pending projects and Rs 3,700 crore for new projects. However, the Centre allocated only Rs 4,500 crore of which only Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the ongoing Khurda-Balangir railway project.
He rejected the Railway’s claim that Rs 6,995.58 crore has been allocated for different Railway projects. “In the list of Railway projects prepared by the Centre, many completed projects are mentioned only to increase the figure,” Behera said. He said the State had demanded allocation for new Railway projects like Puri-Konark, Bargarh-Nuapada, Chakulia- Buramara and Jajpur-Aradi-Dhamra among others.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress criticised the Centre for not meeting the requirement of Odisha even as the State contributed a lot towards Indian Railway’s revenue generation. “The Centre made more allocations for the States where elections will be held in 2021,” alleged OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
Pradhan, however, without naming any political party, said Odisha had received per annum average allocations in the Railway budget of Rs 838 crore between 2009 and 2014 while the same was Rs 4,126 crore between 2014 and 2019.
Referring to the State minister’s allegations, Pradhan said, “Some people have been saying something without having facts.”
Picture credit: Indian Railways.