Bhubaneswar: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today threw an open challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to come forward for a debate over the injustice done to Odisha in the Railway budget for 2021-22.
Describing the allocation made in the 2021-22 budget for railways in Odisha as ‘disappointing’, the regional party said that it appears to it as an intentional attempt to exploit.
Addressing a press conference here today, in a full-throttle attack on BJP MPs and their party’s government at the Centre, BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty came out with a fact sheet to highlight the step-motherly attitude meted out to Odisha in the sphere of railways.
Mohanty alleged that only six new railway lines have been sanctioned for Odisha since independence–Cuttack-Paradeep (83km), Talcher-Sambalpur(174km), Khordha-Rayagada-164km, Daitari-Banspani(155km), Lanjigarh-Junagarh(56km), and Khordha-Bolangir (of which only 30% has been completed so far).
He further alleged that during the colonial era, the Britishers used the railway lines for looting minerals and it is a matter of regret that the same is being practiced by the Central government of today even after 75 years of independence.
The BJD spokesperson pointed out that despite 75 years have elapsed since India’s independence six districts of Odisha namely Kandhamal, Boudh, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapada, Deogarh, and Malkangiri are yet to be connected by rail.
He said that the railways earn Rs 20,000 crore annually as revenue from Odisha and on average have earned a revenue of Rs 140,000 crore in the last seven years. But in the last seven years Odisha has received an allocation of Rs 14,000 crore in the last seven years, he alleged.
Isn’t this step-motherly attitude towards Odisha? Mohanty queried.
The BJD spokesperson pointed out the glaring disparity in railway density in the State as compared to neighbouring States of Bengal and Bihar.
He said while Bengal and Bihar have a railway density of 42 and 35 km density per 1000 Sqkm Odisha has a railway density of 15 km per 1000 km.
“If they have the courage we expect a reply on this from the BJP’s State and Central leadership,” Mohanty said.
He pointed out that in the last seven years only one district has got railway connectivity and if this the progress then it will take 42 years for all the six left out districts of the State to get railway connectivity.
He challenged the BJP’s top leadership to come for a debate on this subject.
Mohanty further pointed out that only 90 km of the 290 km Khordha-Bolangir railway has been completed in the last 25 years which as per the Chief Minister’s remark is a ‘historic slow effort’. With this pace it would take another 10 years to complete, he added.
Again only 20 km of the 155 km Talcher-Bimlagarh railway line has been completed since the decision to undertake the project in 2003, Mohanty stated.
While pointing out that it costs around Rs 20 crore to lay one km of railway line, Mohanty said that the Centre has made an allocation of Rs 10 crore which means only half a km of railway line can be completed and at this pace, it would take 200 years to get completed. This railway line when completed will link the districts of Dhenkanal, Angul, and Deogarh districts, he added.
“Is this not step-motherly attitude?” the BJD spokesperson questioned.