Bhubaneswar, March 21: To boost and expand the railway network in Odisha Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu unveiled dozens of projects to strengthen the railway infrastructure. Besides expanding the railway network, the goal is to improve the railway stations and improve train services and facilities for the passengers.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said that, “Rs 36,480 Crores is being pumped in to expand the rail network in Odisha to tap the state's vast tourism potential and abundant mineral and natural resources.” The Centre is focusing on strengthening the railway infrastructure and connectivity in Odisha to enable the state to chug on the path of development, he added.
Noting that the state is endowed with a very long coastline, ports, mines and minerals, exotic tourist spots and pilgrim centres, the railway minister said huge investment is required to improve the rail connectivity substantially. Hence with an emphasis on building a robust railway network in Odisha, the NDA government raised budgetary allocation for the rail sector in the state to Rs 1,465 Crores in 2014-15, Rs 3,712 Crores in 2015-16 and Rs 4,682 Crores in 2016-17, showing substantial hike from Rs 812.5 Crores allocated by the previous UPA regime, he said.
The allocation was further raised to Rs 5,102 Crores in 2017-18 to put the state on the fast-track of progress, Prabhu said. Stating that the Rs 3.5 Lakh Crores investment is proposed by the railways, he said steps have already been taken for implementing a number of projects with an investment of Rs 36,480 Crores in Odisha.
Prabhu also said that the Odisha government was also extending cooperation for implementation of rail projects and the state has also entered into joint ventures with railways for the development of the sector.The railways would also take steps for marketing of handicraft products and other items produced by tribal communities and women self-help groups (SHGs).
Launching various projects during his visit, the rail minister inaugurated the extension of Khurda Road-Rajsunakhala passenger up to Bolagarh Road.Similarly, Prabhu inaugurated extension of Rourkela- Bhubaneswar Rajyarani Express up to Gunupur. He also laid the foundation stones for Khurda Road bypass line, fourth line between Rourkela and Bondamunda, Multi Disciplinary Training Centre at Jagatpur in Cuttack and maintenance facilities for Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) units at Khurda Road.