By Deepak Kumar Rath
There is a large hue and cry in Orissa as the UPA government at the Centre has hurt the sentiments of the people by not fulfilling their genuine demands pertaining to the East Coast Railway. On March 1, 2005, all the state MPs of BJP and the BJD staged a protest rally in front of the Parliament House, New Delhi, in which the former BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu was also present.
?Union Minister for Railway, Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav presented the Railway Budget for the Year 2005-2006 but it is most unfortunate for the people of Orissa that their aspirations have not been taken care of?, said Shri Jual Oram, MP and Orissa BJP president. He said that it was disappointing to note that a very meagre amount had been allocated for the new rail line projects. He added that there had been a long standing demand for Rajdhani Express in Orissa but instead of that, an insignificant new train from Bhubaneswar to Sambalpur had been declared which was also not clear. ?Very meagre amount has been provided for the East Coast Railway for gauge conversion, electrification, modernisation of stations, passenger amenities, new line survey, etc?, he said.
Stating that this type of apathetic attitude on part of the UPA government towards a state like Orissa was highly condemnable, Shri Oram said that being a state president of BJP Orissa he demanded that adequate provision of funds and special attention should be given to Orissa.
Shri Prasanna Acharya, MP and senior BJD leader of Orissa, while talking to Organiser said that the total allocation in the budget for Orissa was less than half of what the state government had requested for. ?In the budget not a single new railway line has been approved. The extension of Hirakud Express up to Vizag is unwanted since this will cause inconvenience to the people of Orissa. The request to run Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express via Sambalpur at least twice a week has not been considered,? Shri Acharya said.
Shri Brija Kishore Tripathy, leader, BJD (Lok Sabha), said that only170 crore had been earmarked for the ongoing railway line projects, which was inadequate for their completion. He informed that during the current financial year Rail Vikas Nigam had spent only 4 to 5 per cent of the total earmarked funds in Orissa. The BJD leader told Organiser that the sanctioned budget for Orissa during 2005-06 was like a peanut, as the state had demanded Rs 780 crore from the Railway Minister. He criticised the Rail Budget as only a provision of Rs 10 lakh for electrification of Koraput-Raygarh (164 kms) had been made against the estimated cost of Rs 490 crore.