Panel to meet Railways minister over poor funding

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Bhubaneswar: Expressing concern over the cut in allocation to state in railways sector for the year 2020-21, Odisha Assembly House Committee, Monday, decided to meet Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to present their demands for Odisha.

A decision in this effect was taken at the House Committee meeting held under the chairmanship of Assembly Speaker SN Patro here in the premises of the Assembly.

The panel will visit New Delhi, Tuesday, and submit a memorandum to Goyal. “The House Committee on Railways will meet Union Railways Minister at the Rail Bhawan tomorrow at 7 pm. The state government, at different points of time, had submitted their demands for new railway lines, modernisation of railway stations and other infrastructure to the Central government. The Committee will carry all correspondence made in this connection and submit a memorandum,” Patro told the media.

MPs from Odisha in both Houses of Parliament have been invited to join the delegation, he said.
The state government will demand for increase in allocation to Odisha and new railway line in the routes Puri-Konark, Jajpur-Dhamra and Bargarh-Nuapada along with introduction of new train in the name of Buxi Jagabandhu, sources said.

However, BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi has decided not to be a part of the New Delhi visit alleging he was insulted by officials in Assembly, Monday.

Alleging that he was insulted by a senior official of Transport & Commerce department, Majhi said he will not be part of the committee members to meet Railway Minister in New Delhi Tuesday.

According to reports, during the meeting the official concerned refused to reply to Majhi’s question.
“When I asked about the government’s failure in land acquisition for railway projects, an official present at the meeting said that he is answerable to the Speaker only. Therefore, I walked out of the meeting as I felt insulted,” Majhi told the media.

He alleged that state government has failed in acquiring land and spending central funds for railway projects in Odisha.

Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati said both state government and Centre are neglecting the people of Odisha. “If the House panel could have visited New Delhi prior to the Union Budget, it could have resulted in different allocation for Odisha,” he said.

Odisha has been allocated `4,373 crore for different railway projects in the Union Budget for the 2020-21 fiscal.

The allocation is around 27 per cent less than that of last fiscal when the State had received Rs 5,993 crore. The 241 km Sambalpur-Gopalpur line via Phulbani, to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 2,957 crore though has received in-principle approval, is still awaiting the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and NITI Aayog.

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